Bengaluru, Dec 07: Passersby and motorists on Sunday evening were taken by surprise when they spotted a plane that ‘landed' at Bengaluru's famous Minsk Square. A full scale mock-up model of one of the variants of India's Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) has been now installed at the historic Minsk Square.
Prior to the metro rail work, a model of Ajeet (Gnat) single-seater interceptor developed by HAL under license donned Minsk Square for several years. HAL's former Public Relations Officer and a retired Navy man Cdr M Nirmal had played a key role in getting the Ajeet installed at Minsk Square.
"I am delighted to hear this news. Glad that Minsk Square got an indigenous flying machine," Cdr Nirmal (Retd) told OneIndia.
For over 10 years till 2009, Minsk Square became one of the key tourist spots in Bengaluru. Ajeet was operational with the Indian Air Force from 1975 to 1991.
Once Cubbon Road came on the radar of Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (BMRCL), the aircraft was shifted to one of the divisions of HAL on Old Airport Road. The statue of ‘Unknown Soldier, which was next to a small park at the Minsk Square, too was relocated owing to the Metro work.
The installation work of LCA model is still going at the square, which is just a stone's throw away from the headquarters of Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) on Cubbon Road. A chiller plant of BMRCL is operating out of its vicinity.
Plane aficionados celebrate the move
The news of the return of a plane to Minsk Square was welcomed with great fanfare by aficionados. A closed group on Facebook called Bygone Bangalore was the first to post a series of reactions on the plane model getting back to Minsk Square.
Ajay Ghatage, a senior journalist and an active member of Bygone Bangalore, told OneIndia that he is glad to see the plane at its rightful place.
"It always reminded Bangloreans of the great progress our nation made in the field of aviation. Hope its reappearance inspires the younger generation to enter the field of aeronautical engineering. Installation of the aircraft on the 24th death anniversary (December 6) of HAL's ace designer and doyen of Indian aviation Dr V M Ghatage was a fitting tribute to my uncle," says Ajay.
According to Ajay, Dr Ghatage was of the firm opinion that India could match any other nation in building an aircraft. "He was the one who would never gave up and always inspired his team members," says Ajay.
Minsk Square Matters captured the HAL's pulse
Interestingly, the prestige of Minsk Square is being put back at a time when HAL is celebrating its 75th anniversary. HAL had an in-house publication named Minsk Square Matters (MSM), which carried the image of the Ajeet on its masthead.
The publication was taken as a case-study by the Ministry of Defence owing to its success connecting various stake holders. Former President of India Dr A P J Abdul Kalam too was a regular reader of MSM, which had the tagline - ‘The Pulse of HAL.'
In one of the archived issues of MSM, the significance of Minsk Square has been published as well.
Minsk is a historic city of erstwhile Soviet Union which later became the capital of Belarus. Minsk is an area set aside for public events and protests. During a visit to Bengaluru (then Bangalore), the Mayor of Belarus was surprised to see the square named after Minsk. Inspired, he went back to Belarus and reciprocated the gesture by creating a Bangalore Square, which is now popular for holding rallies.