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Tribals find chopper; Khandu’s mutilated body
Correspondent/IANS ITANAGAR/SHILLONG, May 4:
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Published on 5 May. 2011 1:04 AM IST
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After four days of search by over 3,000 security forces and choppers, it was finally a group of tribals who Wednesday found the wreckage the helicopter that went missing Saturday and the mutilated bodies of Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Dorjee Khandu and four others.
Grieving family members also reached the crash site in a remote hilly region and identified Khandu. But the other four bodies were mutilated and charred beyond recognition, officials said. Even as Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopters hovered over the cloudy skies, a small team of tribals led by community leader Phukten telephoned Itanagar to inform that they had sighted the wreckage.
This was around 10 a.m. Wednesday -- 96 hours after the Pawan Hans AS350 B-3 helicopter carrying the chief minister and four others lost contact with ground control after taking off from Tawang at 9.50 a.m. Saturday.
The location of the wreckage was identified as Lobothang, 30 km north of the 13,700 feet Sela Pass in Tawang district. “Some family members could identify the chief minister’s body,” a police officer told IANS.
“It would be possibly on Thursday that we will be able to get the bodies back at the first accessible point as the terrain is rough and it is snowing heavily,” Kiren Rijiju, adviser to the chief minister, told IANS.
Meanwhile, a pall of gloom descended in the mountainous state with news of the wreckage being found.
“The news is heartbreaking and we are sad as the chief minister was a real visionary and honest politician. His death has shaken us,” said Bamang Tago, a civil rights campaigner.
The Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO) findings about metallic objects at a place called Nagarjiji area near the Sela Pass in Tawang has gone awfully wrong, with the actual crash site located far away.
“It would take five to six days of trekking from Nagarjiji to Lobothang and it has exposed the failure of Indian technology,” said Bamang Tago. “We need to rethink and rework our technology.”
IAF’s cheetahs to transfer
remains of Khandu today
The Indian Air Force (IAF) Wednesday said helicopter sorties are planned Thursday morning to transfer the remains of Arunachal Pradesh Chief Dorjee Khandu and others killed in the chopper crash near Sela Pass.
“Cheetah helicopter sorties are planned in the morning at 5 a.m. to transfer the mortal remains from Luguthang helipad either to Tawang or Itanagar as per the requirement of the Arunachal Pradesh government,” Ranjeeb Sahoo, IAF spokesman at the Eastern Air Command headquarters in Shillong, told Nagaland Post
Pawan Hans Office Attacked
Itanagar, May 4: Angry protesters attacked the local Pawan Hans office, breaking window panes and ransacking furniture after reports that the missing chopper carrying Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu had crashed. A group of youths ransacked the local Pawan Hans office in Maharlagun, 14 kms from Itanagar, police said. The glass panes of the director’s chamber and booking counter were damaged in the attack, they said.
However, no one was injured, police said, adding the employees fled from the office after the protesters swooped on the building.
“Never before has Arunachal witnessed such massive development as was undertaken under Khandu after he took over the reins on April 9, 2007,” power minister Jarbom Gamlin who is also state government spokesman said.
Condolences: Governor, Nikhil Kumar has mourned the untimely demise of Arunachal Pradesh chief minister, Dorjee Khandu in a tragic helicopter crash. Nikhil in a condolence message said that the outstanding contribution of Khandu and his service to the people of Arunachal Pradesh in general and the people of Tawang in particular would be remembered for ever. He conveyed condolences to the bereaved family members and pray for grant them the strength to bear the loss.
Nagaland CM: Chief minister Neiphiu Rio expressed deep shock over the demise of Khandu and described him as a “down to earth and a highly practical politician.”
In his tragic demise, Rio said that the people of Arunachal Pradesh have lost a veteran leader who had taken the State on the path to remarkable progress. Rio said Khandu’s death was a great loss not only to the people of Arunachal but the people of North East region and the country as a whole.
The CM on behalf of the people of Nagaland conveyed heartfelt condolences to the members of the bereaved family and the people of Arunachal Pradesh and also to the dear and near ones of the other bereaved families. He prayed to God to give strength, courage and fortitude to them to bear the misfortune.
Former CLP leader, former NPCC president and MLA, I. Imkong described Late Khandu as a person “visionary in spirit and an achiever in action.” He said the Late CM was popularly known to be generous, easily approachable, and a down-to-earth leader of the people.
Stating that the people of Arunachal Pradesh would find it difficult to fill the void created by the sudden departure of Khandu, the former CLP leader expressed deepest condolences to all the members of the bereaved family and to the people of Arunachal Pradesh. He also prayed for granting strength and solace to the family members of all the departed souls, to overcome the loss.
M’laya CM: Condoling the death of Arunachal chief minister Dorjee Khandu , Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma Wednesday said , “Khandu was a leader who was well regarded all over the North East.”
“It is with a deep sense of grief that the people of Meghalaya have received the news of the tragic death of Khandu, the beloved chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh,” Sangma said in his condolence messages.
Stating Khandu was a popular leader and able administrator, Mukul said “While his death is a deep personal loss, it is also a great loss for the country as a whole. The people of Meghalaya join me and my colleagues in extending heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families of Khandu and the other who have died in this tragic accident.”
Was chopper not on usual flight path?
Was the ill-fated helicopter of Khandu, not on the flight path usually taken by an aircraft in those areas?
Sitaram Yechury, who heads the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, which also covers Civil Aviation, said, quoting “initial reports” that the helicopter which crashed with Dorjee Khandu and four others was not on the flight route usually taken in those areas.
“On what basis the path was cleared, who cleared it, the weather reports, all have to be taken into account during the investigations,” Yechury said while releasing the report by his Committee on helicopter operations in the country.
In its report, the Committee said pilots flying VIPs are often “put under pressure” to take off with minor defects and adverse weather conditions in their helicopters and asked the government to penalise those asking them to do so.
Parl. Standing Committee Recommends
“Pilots be provided adequate legal protection to decline to fly in absence of mandatory technical or weather clearances.. Some kind of penal provision may be considered against those putting such pressure on them without clearances.”
Suggested action against pilots also saying, “strictest actions should be taken against pilots/ technicians violating these requirements even under some kind of duress. Their licenses may be cancelled immediately if prima facie they appear to have done so.”
It also observed that after almost six decades after its inception, helicopter operations in India is still in rudimentary stage and was covered by the same rules and regulations for the fixed wing aircraft. “The Committee found that currently, helicopter operations are governed by the set of rules, regulations and mechanism under the DGCA, which are meant for fixed wing aircraft,” it said.
Committee recommended that the in view of the differences between the two types of aircraft, there was an “urgent need” put rules, mechanism and regulations and required infrastructure specific for helicopter sector in place.
The Committee observed that the sanctioned strength of air worthiness officers was 130, whereas there was only one officer posted. Similarly, while the sanctioned strength of air safety officers was 43, no vacancy has been filled up so far, it said.

 
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