Researcher Anil Dhir,
after discovering the fact, has written to Naveen Patnaik, the son of
Biju Patnaik and reigning Chief Minister of Odisha, requesting him to get it
from there and put it in front of the new terminal of the Biju Patnaik
International Airport at Bhubaneswar as a fitting memorial to this great
Another piece carrying
the glory of Biju Babu’s historical contribution to Indonesia’s freedom
struggle lies in forgotten ignominy in the remote village of Ngota in
the Province of Yogyakarta in Central Indonesia. Very few know about it.
Hardly anyone from Odisha might have visited it, but this memorial
signifies the vital contribution of a Hero of our land to their
Apart from being an
expert Pilot, for which Nehru came to his help at a critical juncture in
the Indonesian freedom struggle, Biju Patnaik knew the cultural and
historical links of Kalinga and Indonesia, which made him sprang up to
instant action to render some service to the people of Indonesia at
their crucial hour of need.
Anil Dhir, a researcher
of Odisha’s cultural links, recently visited the spot and revealed the
story behind it. On 17th August 1945, Sukarno proclaimed
himself as President of the independent Indonesia. The Allied, Dutch and
British forces had already landed on the main island of Java, but were
mainly concerned with the repatriation of former prisoners of war;
however, it was known that the Dutch would soon attempt to retake the
former colony. Post the 2nd World War, Jawaharlal Nehru was
taking a keen interest in the freedom struggles in the South East Asia.
The Independence movement in Indonesia, under Sukarno was given a lot of
open and tacit support by India and Nehru was eager to establish an
Indian supremacy in the region.
The relics of Heroism
In 1946, Biju Patnaik
was asked by Nehru to help the Indonesian freedom fighters and their
cause by ferrying planeloads of medicines and humanitarian assistance.
It is also believed that arms and ammunition too were sent. Biju’s
Kalinga Airlines had nearly a dozen Dakota DC-3 planes, and he, along
with his pilots flew numerous sorties, evading the Dutch who had put up
land and sea blockades. It was during this time that Biju Patnaik
developed a close friendship with Sukarno, who later on became the first
President of Indonesia.
The Planes would fly
from Kolkata with fuel stops at Mohanbari and Singapore. It was during
one such operation that he had rescued Muhammad Hatta, the then Vice
President and the Premier Sutan Sjahrir and got them to India. The
flights continued till 1949, and in the course of these supplies, there
were four fatal crashes.
In July 1947 the Dutch
forces had captured most major cities in Java and Sumatra, leaving the
Indonesian republic on the defensive. The Red Cross of Malaya wanted to
donate medical supplies to for the encircled nationalists and the top
Air Force officers of Indonesia, Agustinus Adisucipto and Abdul Rahman
Saleh asked Biju Patnaik to transport the materials from Singapore.
His Kalinga Airlines
Douglas C-47B-20-Dakota bearing Call Number VT-CLA departed
Singapore on the 29th July 1947 at 1:00 A.M. West Indonesian
Time after obtaining necessary approvals by both the British and Dutch
forces. The night before the flight, the Malayan radio broadcasted that
the flight with its registration number would be on a mercy mission. The
permission to land at Maguwa airfield in Yugyakarta was given and a safe
passage was assured.
The flight was piloted
by Alexander Noel Constantine a former officer of the Royal Australian
Air Force, and carried nearly three tons of cargo. After a three hour
flight, the Pilot made the approach run to the Maguwa airfield and
extended the undercarriage for landing. Just then, two Dutch Kittyhawks
appeared and shot at the aircraft. The bullets destroyed the left
engine; the aircraft went into a dive and crashed into the paddy fields
three kilometers from the airfield. The tail section broke up on impact
and the rest of the plane was totally wrecked.
Of the nine passengers
and crew, seven died on the spot. Two others were rushed to the Bethesda
Hospital in the city. Beryl Constantine succumbed to her wounds at the
hospital, while Handonotjokro survived. The tail portion of the plane
was recovered and kept safely in a hangar of the airfield.
On 1 March 1948, a
monument to the crash was built in Ngoto. The shooting down of the
Dakota was a turning point in the freedom struggle. Adisucipto and Saleh
were declared National Heroes of Indonesia in 1974. Since 1979, the
Indonesian Air Force celebrates the crash day as Service Day in
commemoration of the crash and remembrance of all those who died. I have
written in the visitor’s book about the Indian and Odishan connection.
To honor the contribution that we have in Indonesia’s independence, the
Government of Odisha should send a delegation to Ngota on the Memorial
Appeals to Recover Dakotas
Researcher Anil Dhir who
works on this since last several years says, “he has seen the Dakota in
which Biju Patnaik rescued the Indonesian Premier. It is parked along
with two other aircrafts near the end of the now unused East West Runway
of the Netaji Subash Chandra Bose International Airport at Kolkata. The
Aircraft was parked for years near the present Perishable Cargo Terminal
and has been moved and kept in the open.
In last six months Dhir
has repeatedly written to the Chief Minister of Odisha Naveen Patnaik,
the son of Biju Babu, asking him to bring the plane to Odisha for a
fitting memorial to Biju Patnaik but to no avail. He is dismayed by the
fact the Naveen Patnaik cannot do this much for his father. It’s an
irony that while the name of Biju makes votes for Naveen and his Biju
Janata Dal, the party and its leaders hardly have any interest
up-keeping the glorious episodes of Biju Patnaik. Rather, the neglected
aircrafts become glaring examples of how they do not even bother
ignoring the Braputra (the great person of odisha) of Odisha it’s a
Coming across this fact, a passionate
admirer of Biju Patnaik and the Chairman of Bhubaneswar based Naxatra
News and NK Media, Er Pravat Ranjan Mallick, sought immediate
intervention by the ruling Odisha government under the leadership of
Naveen Patnaik to recover these historical properties and showcase them
as relics of centuries old Kalingan-Indonesian relationship. “It should
be the primary duty of the leaders of the party, made in the name of the
great leader Biju Patnaik, to bring the aircrafts used by Odisha’s