JWO Pradeep | Photo: Facebook
Kochi: More than a dedicated and determined officer in the Indian Air Force, Pradeep Arakkal (37), who died in the helicopter crash at Coonoor in Tamil Nadu, was a bighearted and unselfish man, say his friends, neighbors and natives.
During the Kerala flood in 2018, he had volunteered to join the flood relief operations as he always believed that serving its people is the apt way to serve the nation.
Retired sub-inspector of police and his friend, Sivan KN, has told mathrubhumi.com that Pradeep had helped many in his native place during various instances.
“Recently, he donated 1.25 cents of his land to dig a well to solve the drinking water problem of the people in the SC colony in Ponnukkara. Despite implementing a project, the people in the colony faced acute water shortage. It was at this juncture, he came up with a solution to dig a well and to pump water to the tanks in the colony. He provided land for free to dig the well also,” said Sivan.
The entire people in the colony owe much to this brave military man for solving their long-stood drinking water problem.
In yet another instance, he actively worked to make the Ponnukkara anganwadi building a reality, said Gopakumar, a person who lives in his village.
“The anganwadi building here was in dilapidated shape. It was he who took an initiative in renovating it by assembling people and he himself contributed an amount for it,” said Gopakumar.
Another poor and desolate woman named Latha was offered financial aid by Pradeep. Similarly, there are hundreds of people who were helped by Pradeep.
Pradeep, son of Radhakrishnan and Kumari of Arakkal House at Ponnukkara in Thrissur, joined the Indian Air Force in the year 2004. Having been born and brought-up in a middle class family, he achieved good academic records, which in turn helped him get selected to the Air Force. He is married to Sreelakshmi and the couple has two children, Dakshan Dev (5) and Deva Prayag (2). He was working as the Junior Warrant Officer (JWO) at Sulur air base and had boarded the helicopter as the flight gunner.
His father Radhakrishnan is in the ventilator at home due to a pulmonary illness. “Even on Wednesday morning, he had called us informing us about the rare opportunity he got to join the team of the Chief of Defence Staff, Bipin Rawat,” said his brother Prasad Arakkal.
Pradeep had participated in various missions, including the anti-Maoist operation in Chhattisgarh and flood rescue operations in Uttarakhand in 2013. It was just two-and-a-half years ago, he joined Sulur air base. He won appreciation for his dedication during various missions and he was chosen to fly with Rawat only because of his competence and presence of mind.
Prasad told mathrubhumi.com that his father has not been informed about his demise so far. “Till a few days ago, he was at home as he had to take his father to hospital for a checkup. He used to call everyday enquiring about the health of father,” said Prasad. He also said that he has no clue how his father will react when he comes to know about it.