NEW DELHI, MAY 1 (AGENCIES): Utter confusion prevailed over the missing helicopter of Arunachal Chief Minister Khandu Dorjee, with neither the Centre nor State in control of the search operations. A helicopter carrying Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu and four others went missing on Saturday shortly after takeoff from Tawang.
The chopper was last in communication with the base when it was overflying Sela Pass, 20 minutes after taking off from Tawang, and all communications were lost after that.
On Saturday, the Governor of Arunachal Pradesh, Gen (retd) J J Singh in an impromptu press conference called without any consultation with Centre, said that Chief Minister Khandu had landed safely in a place called Daporijo in Upper Subansiri district. After Singh’s statement, search operations to find the missing helicopter were called off.
But, immediately after the press conference, when the Home Ministry enquired from J J Singh as to how did he reach this conclusion (of the CM’s helicopter landing safely), the latter said that he got the information from a state minister who in turn is said to have received the information form the Tawang MLA.
There are two routes from Tawang to Itanagar. While one route is through Sela Pass, the other one is via Tawang Chu -Guwahati to Itanagar. Initial reports from the Army had said that the missing helicopter had passed over the Sela Pass, but later, a post of 5th mountain division denied having seen any helicopter passing over the Sela Pass.
On Saturday, satellites engaged in search operations, made two passes on Tawang but did not pick up transponder signals. The satellites could not locate anything this morning too. On Sunday morning also, two Sukhoi fighter planes passed through Tawang to pick up infra red signals, but, without any success.
Meanwhile, on Saturday, the head of chancery of Bhutanese Embassy in Delhi claimed to have spotted the missing helicopter. But, when the Cabinet Secretary, K.M.Chandrasekhar called up the Bhutanese govt to verify the claim, the latter denied any such information.
Bad weather affects search operations of missing chopper
Itanagar, May 1 (PTI): Inclement weather on Sunday affected the aerial search to trace the missing helicopter carrying Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu and four others even as the Army, SSB, ITBP and the state police launched a massive ground operations to locate it.
Defence sources said 30 columns of the Indian Army comprising 2,400 personnel from Tawang and Tenga were pressed in different locations along the Indo-Bhutan border on ground search. Six ITBP teams with 25 personnel each have also joined the ground search operations. More Army columns are likely to join soon while two Chetak helicopters from Guwahati and an MI-17 IAF chopper from Tawang are on sorties.
IAF officials said in New Delhi that two Sukhoi-30 warplanes have been dispatched from Bareli to scan the general area using their special radars. Sukhoi planes have helped in locating the wreckage of the missing chopper of the then Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy in September, 2009. Reddy and four others on board the chopper died.
Though the choppers were scheduled to begin search operations at 5.30 am, inclement weather delayed them by more than three hours. Search teams from the neighbouring Bhutan have also launched rescue operation in seven districts of the country, sources said. Union Ministers Mukul Wasnik and V Narayanswamy are on their way to Itanagar from New Delhi to monitor the search operations, official sources said.