Jaffar Zaheer


Air Marshal of Indian Air Force Throughout in his career, steeliness and principled stand was the hallmark of Jaffar Zaheer Air Marshal of Indian Air Force. While he headed India's Directorate General of Civil Aviation, Zaheer refused to withdraw the case against Indira Gandhi's unruly son, Sanjay, for flying a commercial airliner with passengers without a valid licence despite relentless pressure on him. Furthermore, Zaheer banned Sanjay from flying a stunt plane and from executing dangerous aerobatics over Delhi, in violation of all safety norms. Sanjay ignored the ban and continued. Zaheer resigned in June 1980. On 23 June 1980, Sanjay, unable to exit from a complex loop in his single-engine two-seater plane, crashed and died. Zaheer commenced his career in Royal Indian Air Force. He was despatched to Canada to undergo flying training and was commissioned into service in 1943 in the rank of Flying Officer. He was one of a handful of Indian Air Force fighter pilots to graduate from the Institute of Armament Technology, a discipline that helped him formulate the Weapons Planning Directive of 1963 that remains the template for all such activity at Air Headquarters even today. Jaffar Zaheer was born into an aristocratic family in Lucknow.

Compiler: M. Nauman Khan

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