A lifetime experience: Adilabad businessman sponsors flight travel for Adivasi workers to Tirupati

Hirani, belonging to the local Ismaili Khoja community, did not bat an eyelid when the workers in his grocery shop comprising Adivasis, Dalits, and others, wanted to go on a pilgrimage to Tirupati.

By S. Harpal Singh  Published on  1 Oct 2022 5:50 AM GMT
A lifetime experience: Adilabad businessman sponsors flight travel for Adivasi workers to Tirupati

Adilabad: Those in his proximity must have scoffed at the rather strange vow that Indervelli businessman Aziz Hirani had committed himself to. But being someone who stands by his word he went on to fulfill the promise of sponsoring an air trip for his workers to a destination of their choice in case his daughter landed the job of a commercial pilot, which she did.

Hirani, belonging to the local Ismaili Khoja community, did not bat an eyelid when the workers in his grocery shop comprising Adivasis, Dalits, and others, wanted to go on a pilgrimage to Tirupati.

"I said so be it," he observed as he recalled the unique events of the last three months which had him planning and organizing the trip.

The story of the businessman's strange vow, against the backdrop of the family's consistent support of the daughter Aafrin achieving her dreams, began with her completion of training as a cadet pilot with Indigo Airlines in September 2019. An Aeronautical Engineer, she trained in Australia and was ready to enter the cockpit when the COVID-19 pandemic caused the unwanted delay.

"Aafrin became a First Officer about three months back and soon after I revealed my surprise vow to my workers. They were excited about the prospect of flying in a plane and expressed a desire to go to Tirupati on pilgrimage," Hirani said.

He gave details of how the trip from Hyderabad to the famous pilgrim center materialized on September 17 after two-month of planning.

The workers were accompanied by their employer whose presence helped them go around in the holy land. "My sister had intended to accompany the pilgrims but the exigencies of duty had put paid to her wish," said Alnoor, Aafrin's younger brother who was involved in organizing the pilgrimage which stands out as an example of religious tolerance and harmony.

"It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for us," observed Dhan Singh, one of the workers who remembered the journey with fondness. "Most of us hail from completely backward villages and traveling in an airplane was like a heaven-sent manna," he summed it up for his colleagues.

The story of Aafrin, who is central to this unique event, is quite inspiring and is a prime example of the empowerment of women belonging to a rural area. Besides being creative she is diligence personified.

"There were times when she faced setbacks and moments when we thought she should quit her pursuit," Aafrin's mother Navina recollected of the rather difficult times during the pandemic.

"It was only her persistence and hard work that has her ending up an achiever," she added.

"Yes, I am loving my job, and joining duty as a pilot was a proud moment as I broke the stereotype that girls cannot do what they want to. Now, girls are looking up to me," quipped Aafrin, who incidentally is the second woman to become a commercial pilot from Adilabad town, while talking about her pains and gains.

"I have just started my career and the job demands lots of hard work. But, I am sure everything will go well in the future too," she hoped as she weighed her pains and gains during the immediate past.

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