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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Arunachal CM is safe (posted at 1515 hrs on 30th April 2011)

Have you heard of Dorjee Khandu ? 

Arunachala Pradesh – the North Eastern State of India borders the states of Assam, Nagaland and has international border with Burma, Bhutan and China.  The northern border reflects the controversial McMahon Line. Itanagar is the capital of the state. Arunachal Pradesh means "land of the dawn lit mountains” - in Sanskrit.

A chopper carrying Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu was reported missing since 10 am today(30th Apr 2011).  The CM and four others were on board and after hours of anxiety, now there are reports that all of them are safe.   The Chief Minister was on his way from Tawang to Itanagar.   The chopper was a Eurocopter AS350-B3 and was only about four months old. It was to land at Itanagar at the Raj Bhavan helipad at 11:05 am, but reportedly had to make an emergency landing due to bad weather.  It had crossed Tezpur airfield and Misamari Air Force base at the last point of radio contact. It then crossed a mountain pass and thereafter, there was no contact between the chopper and the ATCs in Tezpur, Jorhat and Guwahati till about 2:30 pm.

There were conflicting reports as concern mounted as the fate of the CM remained uncertain for hours.  The CM has been accompanied by two of his personal aides in the chartered Pawan Hans helicopter and should have landed by 11.30  after the 200 km travel. 

Quoting the Home Secretary, search parties had left from Ita nagar by road to the probable site near Sela Pass. The Defence Ministry, Army and the Air Force had all been alerted.   There was bad weather and flights had difficulty in flying in Tawang area. Two Cheetah helicopters had been presssed into service from Tezpur in Assam for search and rescue operations.

According to reports, this is the third helicopter to get into trouble in the Northeast in the last fortnight.   Earlier on April 19  a Pawan Hans helicopter crashed in the mountains of Tawang, bordering Tibet, killing all 17 people on board. The helicopter crashed not far away from the helipad and the DGCA had found that proper fire-fighting facilities could have saved lives.  In the other incident, an army helicopter crashed near Gangtok killing four occupants on board.

The Nation has memories of   Yeduguri Sandinti Rajasekhara Reddy better known as YSR a two time CM  of the state of Andhra Pradesh.  On Sept 2009, a helicopter carrying Reddy went missing in the Nallamala forest area in a mysterious way.  The next day  the wreckages of the copter were found  on top of Rudrakonda Hill, 40 nautical miles (74 km) from Kurnool.  All five occupants including the YSF were pronounced dead. 

Dorjee Khandu  is the leader of Indian National Congress and the current Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh. He became the sixth chief minister of the Indian state, replacing Gegong Apang on April 9, 2007. After the victory of his party in the Arunachal Pradesh legislative assembly elections, 2009 he again sworn in as the chief minister on 25 October 2009. He belongs to Monpa tribe. He is the son of late Leki Dorjee, and has four sons and two daughters.

Regards – Sampathkumar S

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