English News


Iconic plane that Biju Patnaik flew to rescue Indonesia PM to be on display at Bhubaneswar

The Dakota which Biju Patnaik used to rescue Indonesian leaders is being dismantled (Pic. Courtesy Twitter/@debabrata2008)

A multifaceted public personality, Biju Patnaik, was an industrialist and freedom fighter was a fearless and courageous pilot who never backed down from any dangerous assignment to fly. A proof of this is the iconic Dakota DC-3 in which the two-time Odisha Chief Minister flew to Delhi former Indonesian Vice President Muhammad Hatta and Prime Minister Sutan Sjahrir in July 1947 when the Dutch invaded the country.

This 20-metre-long aircraft which at present is kept at Kolkata’s Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport, will be soon moved to Odisha’s capital city Bhubaneswar and displayed at Biju Patnaik International Airport.

The dismantling of the craft is being completed though the process which started way back in October 2020 got delayed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The aircraft parts which weigh more than eight tonnes will be transported to Bhubaneswar in two open trucks. The Transport and Commerce Department along with the Odisha Police is coordinating with their West Bengal counterparts for the safe passage of the trucks.

In 1945 Indonesia freed itself from Dutch rule with President Sukarno and Prime Minister Sutan Sjahrir forming an independent Government. The Dutch in 1946 started invading the country and in July 1947 launched a full-fledged attack with their army placing Sjahrir under house arrest in Jakarta.

Jawaharlal Nehru asked Patnaik to fly Sjahrir and the then Vice-President Mohammad Hatta to enable them to reach out to the world. Along with his wife Gyana Devi, Patnaik reached Jakarta on July 21 and brought back the two to India flying via Singapore.

For this brave act in 1950, Patnaik was given an honorary citizenship of Indonesia and awarded the Bhoomi Putra, a recognition rarely granted to a foreigner.

The Kalinga Airlines Patnaik founded had Dakota planes which were used to transport Army jawans when deployed in Kashmir and dropping supplies in north-eastern regions of the country.