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The man who chose India over Pakistan: Former IAF chief Idris Hasan Latif no more


Former Chief of the Indian Air Force, Air Chief Marshal Idris Hasan Latif, passed away at a private hospital here today. He was 94.

Former Chief of the Indian Air Force, Air Chief Marshal Idris Hasan Latif

Latif, who was the chief of the IAF from September 1978 to August 1981, was admitted to the hospital on April 25 with aspiration pneumonia, sources said.

He was critically ill and underwent treatment in the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital, where he passed away at 4.30 pm, they said.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharam took to Twitter to condole the demise.

"Deeply saddened by the demise of Air Chief Marshal Idris Hasan Latif. Our deepest condolences to his family & friends. The nation will be always grateful for his exemplary service," she tweeted.

The funeral would take place today at a cemetery in the old city of Hyderabad, the sources said.

Born on June 9, 1923, at Hyderabad, Idris Hasan Latif was educated at the Nizams College in the city. He joined the Royal Indian Air Force in 1941 at the age of 18 and was commissioned in 1942.

On completion of his training at Ambala, he was posted in Karachi, in undivided India, where he flew vintage biplanes like the Wapiti, Audaxes and Harts, on Anti-Submarine flights over the Arabian Sea, according to an Indian Air Force website.

During 1943-44, he was one of the few Indian pilots to be seconded to the Royal Air Force in the United Kingdom, where he underwent training on more contemporary aircraft like the Hurricane and Spitfire.

He returned to India in 1944 and took part in the Burma campaign.

At the time of Partition, he chose IAF though he was reportedly urged by some to join the Pakistan Air Force. During the 1971 War, Latif was still the (Assistant Chief of Air Staff) ACAS (Plans).

He was keenly involved in flying to the front line squadrons and getting first-hand information on the progress of the war and the requirements of the units if any.

Latif was in the Eastern Sector at Shillong when the surrender in East Pakistan took place.

He was involved fully in the re-equipment and modernisation plans of the air force and he convinced the government to approve the procurement of the Jaguar strike aircraft, a proposal which was lying dormant for over eight years.

He also held negotiations with the Russians and saw the induction of the MiG-23 and later, the MiG-25 aircraft into the IAF, according to the website.

After his retirement in 1981, he held the posts of Governor of Maharashtra and Indian Ambassador to France.

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