In an atmosphere of gloom, the village youth mourned the death of their role model, who rose to become a fighter pilot from this small hamlet.
Bal’s body arrived in a service aircraft at Airforce station in Jammu.
In a ceremony at the IAF station, Air officer Commanding (AoC) Air Commodore GS Bhullar paid tributes to Bal, who made “supreme sacrifice in Rajasthan in service of the motherland,” officials said.
Carried in a kilometre-long cavalcade of private vehicles and tricolour-donned motorcyclists, the IAF cortege took to the road from Jammu IAF station and arrived at the martyr’s home amid chanting of “Advitiya Amar Rahay.”
People gathered outside the pilot’s home since morning waiting for the coffin to arrive and bid him a last goodbye.
His family members broke down, at the sight of the coffin.
Bal will be cremated with full military honours at a place near the village, officials said.
Bal was one of the two Indian Air Force (IAF) pilots who were killed Thursday night when their twin-seater MiG-21 trainer aircraft crashed during a training sortie near Barmer.
Wing Commander M Rana from Himachal Pradesh was the second pilot.
The family expressed its pain over the way he died while flying an “ailing” aircraft instead of “fighting enemies.” They urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to immediately retire the entire fleet of ageing MiG-21 jets so that no more young lives are lost.
Locals said Bal was a “new age role model” for the children of the village and they were proud of his “martyrdom.”
Sanjay Singh, a National Defence Academy (NDA) aspirant — gateway for candidates aspiring to join defence forces — said he was inspired by Bal and decided to join the military after his example