Residents of Langeana Nawan in Moga district have decided to install a statue of Squadron Leader Abhinav Choudhary (29), who died after his MIG-21 fighter jet crashed near the village on May 21, as a tribute. The locals said the Indian Air Force pilot died in an attempt to save the lives of hundreds of residents of Langeana Nawan and adjoining Langeana Purana village as the fighter jet could have crashed into residential areas. The two villages have a population of nearly 5,000.

They have already approached sculptors to make the statue of Choudhary.

Also, an akhand path (non-stop recitation of Guru Granth Sahib) started at Langeana Purana on Wednesday in the squadron leader’s memory and a bhog ceremony will be held on Friday.

Choudhary, whose body was found from fields nearly 2km from the crash site, was on a routine training sortie and was returning to the IAF base in Suratgarh, Rajasthan.

He hailed from Baghpat district in Uttar Pradesh.

Langeana Nawan sarpanch Jagsir Singh said, “He averted the crashing of the fighter jet in the residential area. He could have survived by crashing the jet in the residential area but chose to save others’ lives. The statue will be installed with the contribution of villagers. Once the IAF completes formalities pertaining to the death, we will start the work on the installation of statue.”

Langeana Purana sarpanch Sukhdev Singh said, “We lost a brave young warrior in the unfortunate incident. Senior IAF officials were also informed and they may also join us in the bhog ceremony on Friday.”

Moga deputy commissioner Sandeep Hans, said, “It is a good initiative. They just have to inform us where they want to install the statue.”