Due to lack of evidence, we haven't provided any conclusion to the claim that Rajiv Gandhi was the only pilot of Indian Airlines whose leave was approved during the 1971 Indo-Pak war.
A screenshot of a report is being widely shared on Whatsapp with the claim that Rajiv Gandhi was the only pilot whose leave was approved during the Indo-Pak war in 1971. We received the following screenshot from one of our readers.
The user further told us that his father was in the Army during those days and this news is false.
We found a few websites on the internet who claim that Rajiv Gandhi was approved leave during the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971. According to them, the leave applications of all pilots under Indian Airlines were cancelled so that they could provide logistic support. However, apparently Rajiv Gandhi’s leave was approved and he, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi fled to Italy. They only returned after General Niazi had signed the surrender papers. According to the date of publications,
Kanchan Gupta, who is a political analyst based at the Bharatiya Janata Party headquarters in Delhi and editor of the party's official organ, BJP Today first published about this under the article "Where was Sonia when India was at war? And after Mrs Gandhi lost in 1977?" on April 23rd 1999. This article talks about the incident mentioned above and Sonia Gandhi’s Anti Patriotic behaviour. It also highly criticises her actions, talks about how Sonia Gandhi is not of Indian origin and even talks about our constitution and how it lets a person who has acquired Indian citizenship to run for the post of Prime Minister. However, it is seen that most claims from this particular article are not linked with citations nor are the sources mentioned. Rajiv Gandhi leaving to Italy during the Indo-Pak war is mentioned, but where did the writer get this information from is not mentioned.
Very similar claims have been made by Pika Post on an article published on October 4, 2015. This article also has failed to include sources of information and has no citations. The latest article regarding this was published by Post Card on February 4th 2018. This particular article was shared by several people on social media.
Same as the previous articles, this article also narrates the incident of Rajiv Gandhi’s absence during crucial wartime and also heavily talks about how shameful Congress is. Just like the previous articles, no citations and sources have been given.
A similarity among all three articles is that all of them have quoted Sonia Gandhi saying that "It is here that I will breathe my last. It is here that my ashes will mingle with yours and my loved ones," ( referring to India ). These articles seem to accuse her of her anti-patriotic actions which are against her claims of being patriotic and indebted to the country till the end. However, their claims and accusations can only be considered valid if they had sourced their claims but unfortunately they haven’t.
After attending college in the United Kingdom Rajiv Gandhi returned to India in 1966 and became a professional pilot for the state-owned Indian Airlines. He went on to become a check pilot on Avros, and would almost certainly have risen fairly high in the airline hierarchy if he had not left shortly after getting his licence endorsed for flying Boeings in 1980.
We couldn't find much information about his career as a pilot but Vijay Agarwal has shared his experience with Rajiv Gandhi as a pilot.
We couldn't find anything to support the claim that Rajiv Gandhi was the only pilot whose leave application was approved in 1971. But Kanchan Gupta is a reputed journalist and without evidence, we can't assume that whatever he has written is false. We have contacted him for his response on this matter.
In order to confirm whether the 1971 Rajiv Gandhi incident took place, Fact hunt has also contacted Minhaz Merchant who is the author of the biography of Rajiv Gandhi. He is yet to respond to our message and his response will be updated as soon as it is received.
As of now, we can't conclude anything about this claim.
Note: You can reach out to us at support[at]facthunt.co.in if you find any issue with our articles.
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