Punjab minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot here today handed over a cheque for Rs 5 lakh to the family of Wing Commander Mandeep Singh Dhillon who died in a helicopter crash while on a rescue mission in Arunachal Pradesh on July 4. The Punjab government had announced an ex-gratia of Rs 12 lakh and a government job for a member of the family of the deceased. Attending the 'Antim Ardaas' at Gurdwara Moti Bagh Sahib in Patiala today, Dharamsot lauded the role of the wing commander and the crew in rescuing people from area. Mandeep's father said he was proud that his son saved many lives. "This is a sad day for any father, but at the same time I'm proud of my son and the crew saved many lives," Squadran Leader (retd) Puran Singh Dhillon said. Mandeep's widow, Prabhpreet Kaur, said her husband would always volunteer for rescue and relief operation ahead of others. "Flying for flood-relief or evacuation always remained his top priority. He just wanted to help others in every possible way.
He also performed seva in langars at the gurudwara wherever possible," she said. Mandeep chose to go for a flood relief operation that day. Ignoring his wife's request to take their daughter to the medicare centre of IAF's Tezpur base as she was running a fever, the IAF had said in a release yesterday. "But he said he would not be able to as he had to go on a flood relief mission. And, in the process of saving others' lives he ended up losing his own," the IAF had quoted his wife as saying. Mandeep was the commanding officer of the Tezpur-based Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) unit and the chopper he was piloting was on a mission to rescue flood-affected people in Arunachal Pradesh. On the ill-fated day last week, the crew evacuated 169 civilians to safety, the IAF said. With nearly 4,000 hours of flying experience, Mandeep was one of the highly experienced helicopter pilots.