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May -  07


Itanagar bids good bye to Dorjee Khandu

Sonia, Singh, PC pay their last respect

ITANAGAR, May 6: The body of Dorjee Khandu, former CM of Arunachal Pradesh was taken back today to Tawang by an IAF flight this afternoon from Itanagar. The last rite of the departed leader is scheduled to be held on May 11 at his native place Gyankhar in Tawang.

Hundreds of citizens, mostly people from the interior areas of the state, lined up today before the CM's official residence to catch a last glimpse of their beloved leader.

They patiently waited for their turn and those, who could not avail a chance to see his coffin inside his residence, bade adieu when his coffin was transferred in a flower-decked open vehicle to the Raj Bhawan helipad.

Khandu was given adieu with full state honour by the Kumaon Regiment at the Raj Bhawan Helipad.

The body of the Chief Minister who went missing on Saturday following an air crash along with four others was located on Wednesday by citizens near Luguthang in Mago Circle and was retrieved a day later. His body was brought to Capital yesterday afternoon enabling the citizens to pay their last homage.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Union Home Minister P Chidambaram today paid their last respects to Dorjee Khandu. Industrialist and MP Naveen Jindal accompanied the leaders.

Leaders who landed at the Raj Bhavan helipad here in IAF helicopters were driven straight to the official residence of the Chief Minister were they spent about 20 minutes and met members of the family of the Late leader.

“Its a great loss not just for the state of Arunachal but for the whole country. I am here on behalf of the people of India to pay homage to the Late Chief and express my deep sorrow to the family and the people of Arunachal. Dorjee Khandu has left behind an unfinished work of development and I hope his dream of a developed Arunachal is carried forward,” the Prime Minister said.


3-member committee to probe

Luguthang crash

AS350 B3s in 48 accidents, 40 deaths

ITANAGAR, May 6: The Civil Aviation Ministry has set up an inquiry committee to probe the circumstances under which the Pawan Hans chopper crashed killing  CM Dorjee Khandu and four others on Saturday.

"A Committee of Inquiry headed by Air Marshal (Retd) P S Ahluwalia has been appointed to look into the circumstances of the accident of the helicopter near Luguthang, Arunachal Pradesh, on April 30 while going from Tawang to Itanagar," the Civil Aviation Ministry said in a release.

The 3-member committee has been asked to submit its report in three months.

Ahluwalia, with an experience of over forty years in the IAF, retired as the head of Western Air Command's chief in 2008.

The other two members of the inquiry team are Group Captain (retd) T V Unnikrishnan and P K Chattopadhyay. Senior Air Safety Officer A K Joseph will be the Secretary of the committee.

The committee will investigate and determine the cause and contributory factors leading to the accident and make recommendations to avoid recurrence of such incidents, it added.

The committee has been asked to take assistance from other experts and agencies, if required, it said.

Meanwhile According to Aviation Safety Network statistics there have been 49 accidents involving AS350 B3s the same model that flew CM and four others reported from across the world since 1999 resulting in 40 deaths. 10 of the 49 accidents happened in 2010 alone. There have been as many as 348 reported AS350 series accidents since 1979 with 408 causalities.

There are over 900 AS350 B3 helicopters currently in service across the world including Antarctica.

The AS350 B3 is touted to be an ideal flying machine in extreme weather and geographical conditions. On May 14, 2005 the AS350 B3 became the first helicopter to land on the highest mountain peak in the world, Mount Everest.

Despite the claims and achievement, safety records remains questionable.  

Amid concerns over safety aspect of choppers in the wake of Dorji Khandu's death in an air crash, Pawan Hans Helicopters today said the crew flying the Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister was one of the best the company had. Terming the incident as "unfortunate", Deputy General Manager (Engg) of Pawan Hans Sanjeev Razdan said in a press release Capt JS Babbar and Capt TS Mamik, flying the ill-fated chopper, were ex-Army pilots with flying experience of around 4000 hours and 3200 hours respectively. Both of them held valid Commercial Helicopter Pilot Licence (CHPL), he said.  Pawan Hans commercial helicopter services in the northeast have been suspended following the death of Dorjee Khandu along with four others in a chopper crash on Saturday.

The flights of Asia's largest helicopter company were not operating since Sunday as the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) was undertaking checks and reviewing its choppers operating in the region, sources in the Pawan Hans Helicopters Ltd (PHHL) said today.

The DGCA would also examine why the advanced emergency locator transmitter (ELT) fitted into Khandu's helicopter did not transmit signals on heavy impact during the crash, they said.

Meghalaya and Sikkim had already suspended Pawan Hans flights after Khandu's chopper had gone missing on April 30.


Last rites of PSO in Tawang

ITANAGAR, May 6: Yeshi Chodak, the personal security officer of late Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu who died in the ill fated chopper crash at Tawang was cremated today.

Born on 3rd March 1962, he joined Arunachal Pradesh police as sub inspector and was working as PSO of late CM in the rank of deputy superintendent of police.

He had the distinction of serving three chief ministers in the state and was trusted officer of late Dorjee Khandu.

His body was burnt beyond recognition.  Family members identified the body from the gold ring he was wearing. Many officials believed that he pushed late CM Khandu and Yeshi Lhamu out of chopper to save them and in process he got stuck inside.

Late Yeshi Chodak was in Kosovo with UN Peace keeping force and was regarded for his excellent work ethics.


State laments Khandu’s untimely departure

ITANAGAR, May 6: Messages from prominent figures, social activists, various organizations, students and religious bodies, NGOs is still pouring in condoling the death of chief minister Dorjee Khandu in a helicopter mishap on April 30 last near Tawang.

Former Chief Minister Gegong Apang while mourning the death of Khandu, described his untimely demise as most tragic and painful moment in the history of Arunachal Pradesh.

Remembering his association with Khandu during his chief ministership, Apang said that Kahndu’s political journey exemplifies how a person with a very humble upbringing can reach the highest ladder of political career by dint of sheer hard work, political acumen, the ability to feel the pulse of the common people and his concern for socio-economic development of the state.

"The vacuum created by his death cannot be filled easily," the former CM said.

Apang, conveyed heartfelt condolence and deep sympathy to the grief-stricken family members and prayed to almighty to keep his departed soul in peace.

The BJP National President Nitin Gadkari expressed deep shock at the unfortunate and untimely death of chief minister Dorjee Khandu.  

In a condolence message, Gadkari said, “In his death, India has lost one of its most able administrators and public leaders.” He was a nationalist to the core and a practitioner of development politics, Gadkari said.  “BJP share the grief of your family and also our brothers and sisters of Arunachal Pradesh,  the message addressed to the family of late chief minister said.  BJP national general secretary Tapir Gao delivered the message to bereaved family of Khandu as an emissary of central BJP.

Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party Arunachal Pradesh state unit president Dr Tangor Tapak along with leader of BJP legislature party, Tamiya Taga, Deputy Leader, Tapen Siga, former MP and National General Secretary, Tapir Gao besides host of the party office bearers and senior leaders paid last respect and floral tribute to chief minister Dorjee Khandu here this morning.

The General Administration Department of the State Government yesterday mourned the death of Khandu and four others.

"Khandu--one of the pioneers in Arunachal’s development--would always be remembered as most dedicated leader and chief minister of the state," Chief Secretary Tabom Bam, in a condolence message, said.

A two-minutes silence was observed as a mark of respect and to pay homage to the departed leader.

They prayed to almighty to keep the soul of Khandu in peace and also consoled the bereaved family members to bear the loss.

Mizo Zirlai Paul (MZP) the Apex Students body of Mizoram in a condolence letter to All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU) Itanagar said that the demise of Dorjee Khandu has brought about a tremendous loss.

The Central Nyedar Namlo, Doimukh, Kargu Gamgi Management Committee of Nirjuli, Donyi Polo Mission fraternity, Buddhist community of Tuting residing in Yingkiong expressed their grief and sorrow over the sad demise of Khandu and prayed to almighty for eternal peace of the departed souls.

Condoling the death of Khandu, the Donyi Polo Mission fraternity said, "In his death we have lost a benevolent chief minister who had a special place in his heart for the underprivileged and differently-abled people of the state".

All Nyishi Students’ Union (ANSU), National Students’ Union of India (NSUI), Arunachal Pradesh unit, Nerist Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Association (NAPSA), Wancho Students’ Union, Dibang Adi Students’ Union, Kargu Kardi Student’s Union (KKSU), the students, Board of Directors, staff and teaching fraternity of DRS International School, Itanagar, VKV School, Ziro also condoled the death of Khandu and prayed for eternal peace of the departed soul.

"Khandu was not only an excellent politician but also a dedicated social activist, who worked very hard for the development of the state, ANSU said while recalling and acknowledging the various developmental activities undertaken by him for the uplift of underdeveloped Nyishi areas.

NAPSA organized a condolence meet cum candle light peace procession in honour of the late Chief Minister which was participated by the faculties, staff and students of NERIST and general public of the locality area.

The central Nationalist Youth Congress (NYC), various District Congress Committees and Block Congress Committees of the state also condoled the death of Khandu.

While describing Khandu as most successful chief minister of the state, the NYC said that his death has caused an irreparable loss to the state.

The Legislative Assembly Secretariat led by Deputy Speaker Tapang Taloh, the officers and staff of Tawang, Changlang, Aalo and Anini district headquarters led by their respective Deputy Commissioners (DCs), the Govt. officers, officials of Jairampur administrative sub-division, Changlang district along with all public and Panchayrt leaders of Nampong Assembly constituency also condoled the death of Khandu by organizing condolence meets.

They prayed for eternal peace of the departed soul and conveyed their condolences to the bereft families.

The Arunachal Pradesh State Social Welfare Board, Panchayat Raj Coordination Committee of Kurung Kumey, Ramle Banggo Welfare Society, Itanagar camp, Dini Welfare Society, Likabali, All Arunachal Pradesh Workers Union including the Yingkiong and Koloriang units, ZPM of Tajang segment of Ziro, Ejenso Yun, a social activist of Anjaw district have also mourned the death of Khandu and prayed for his eternal peace and recalled his contributions towards overall development of the state.

The All Arunachal Pradesh Motor Transport Workers’ Union in its condolence message prayed for the eternal peace of the departed soul and lauded Khandu’s commitment to develop the state in every sphere.

Meanwhile, Debojeet Thousen, the Chief Executive Member of Autonomous Council of Dima Hasou District, Haflong, Assam was saddened by the death of Khandu.

"Khandu had a strong motive and vision for strengthening the socio-economic status of Arunachal Pradesh. He was a guiding figure of the state and the vacuum created by his death can not be filled easily, he said.

Thousen conveyed his heartfelt condolence to the bereaved family and prayed for eternal peace of the departed leader.

The All Arunachal Pradesh Motor Transport Workers’ Union in its condolence message prayed for the eternal peace of the departed soul and lauded Khandu’s commitment to develop the state in every sphere. It meanwhile welcomed the appointment of the new CM and expressed hope that Gamlin would ably shoulder his responsibilities and completed unfinished developmental activities initiated late Khandu.


Congratulations to the new Chief Minister

ITANAGAR, May 6: Former Chief Minister Gegong Apang has extended his heartiest congratulations to Jarbom Gamlin for being appointed as chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh.

In a congratulatory message, Apang said  “I hope with your able leadership, our state will see rapid development in every sphere  as initiated by late Dorjee Khandu. In this endeavour, I assure that you will not find me wanting in extending necessary cooperation  as and when required for overall welfare of the state.”

Confederation of Service Association of Arunachal Pradesh (CoSAAP)  wished that the new CM Jarbom Gamlin, a highly qualified and experienced leader, would lead the state to a new height and fulfill the cherished dream of late Dorjee Khandu for ‘vibrant and self-reliance’  Arunachal.  While congratulating Gamlin, it hoped that the new CM will keep good rapport with all the Govt employees as shown by former CM Dorjee Khandu.  Gamlin is an experienced and seasoned politician with penchant to serve the people of the state, said Tirap District Congress Committee while congratulating Gamlin as new  chief minister.

All Arunachal Youth Association, East Siang district unit of Adi Baane Kebang, Arunachal Indigenous Students’ Union (AISU), Lobom Welfare Society, Kamba and  Kargu Gamgi Management Committee, Naharlagun,  also passed on good wishes to Gamlin and hoped the  new chief minister will  fulfill the dreams  and  complete unfinished development activities of former CM Dorjee Khandu. While congratulating new Chief Minister Gamlin, Ramle Banggo Welfare Society wishes amicable solution to Assam-Arunachal Pradesh boundary problems under leadership of Gamlin.

I Imkong, former president of the Nagaland State Pradesh Committee has also extended his greetings to the new chief minister. “I am confident that you will be able to lead the people of Arunachal Pradesh to more prosperity and all-round development. I shall be looking forward for your support and co-operation in our efforts to build a united Indian National Congress in the Northeast under your able leadership,” he said in a congratulatory message.

Gamlin is the right choice of the party command and party legislators to lead the state at this crucial stage, said former MLA Nani Ribia while congratulating the new CM. He is the fittest man to keep alive the dream of former CM for well-being of the state, Ribia said.


Chief Minister’s Chopper Crash: Some lessons, some questions

Nani Bath

As India mourns the sudden demise of the promising Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, the USA celebrates its victory over the world’s most wanted man- Osama Bin Laden. The Peoples Republic of China did not want to lag behind India and the USA. It was in another kind of celebration- a celebration over the ‘death’ of India’s technological capabilities (read: ISRO) and, may be, on incompetence of Indian Army to read the topography of Sino-India border.

It took just forty minutes to hunt down Osama Bin Laden but more than 7000 minutes to locate the debris of Pawan Hans Helicopter, which went missing on 30th April, 2011 carrying the Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh. This is astonishing that ISRO’s satellite images show ‘misleading’ direction of the location of ‘metal debris’. The direction shown is Nagarjiji, just opposite of the place where the debris was actually found. Sceptics are of the opinion that the Sukoi-30 used for mapping the areas must be ‘Indian-made’. I wish Sukoi-30 was actually not used for mapping the areas as it gave Chinese Air Force an opportunity to laugh at us.

Immediately after the news of missing chopper of Andra Pradesh Chief Minister, the Central government as well as All India Congress Committee responded with lightening speed. Office of the President, AICC was constantly in touch with the state government while the Home Ministry was monitoring the search and rescue operation on daily basis. Unfortunately, such urgency was not shown in present situation. V. Narayanswami and Mukul Wasnik, New Delhi’s representatives, are seemed to have been deputed to defuse possible ‘instability’ in the Congress party. If they were to oversee the rescue and search operation, they should have camped either in Bombdila or Tawang. Camping in Itanagar is as good as monitoring the situation from air-conditioned rooms in the capital of India. Irony is the fact that every central minister or high official from Delhi or other cities ‘fix’ official meetings to be held in Tawang; whoever comes to Itanagar wished to visit Tawang. People of Arunachal Pradesh would be eager to know where these political and officials are gone today.

Home Minister of India, P. Chidabaram appeared before the media briefly to announce sighting of the debris from ‘a height’. Death of Chief Minister was announced by the External Affairs Minister, S.M. Krishna, which prompted the ordinary people like me to wonder:  how and why the Ministry of External Affairs is coming into the picture? Arunachal Pradesh was under the control of the Ministry of External Affairs till 1965.  Government of India may have better explanation. Responses and reports of so-called mainstream media are equally intriguing.  We were expecting some uncomfortable questions to be posed to responsible politicians and bureaucrats. It did not happen. Reports of some of the reporters clearly reflected their lack of knowledge about Arunachal Pradesh, a territory located strategically, bordering China and Bhutan. A news reporter of CNN-IBN was repeatedly indicating that Daporijo (which is located in central part of Arunachal Pradesh) is close to Sela Pass, when an announcement, quoting the Chief Secretary, was made that the chopper carrying Chief Minister safely landed at Daporijo. When other news channels were confirming the news of the Chief Minister’s death, Aaj Tak was airing Saas, Bahu aur Beti serial.

Who was the anonymous caller that compelled the Governor to go out of protocol to give telephonic interview to NDTV? Governor is reported to have said, “Yes, I am definite that he (Dorjee Khandu) is safe”. Governor may have had the best of intention but the atmosphere then was different. Arunachal Citizens Rights had gone to the extent of demanding public apology from the head of the state. A release from All Arunachal Pradesh Students Union reads: “Much required time for rescue was lost after Governor, Home Minister and Chief Secretary gave press statement to national media telling that missing chopper has been traced at Bhutan. The complacency led to loss of valuable time. How can these responsible persons mislead the entire nation?” Sources revealed that search and rescue operations were halted after reports of safe landing of Chief Minister’s chopper in Bhutan.

I join with others in maintaining that the Governor should not have personally talked to any reporter, that too, without verifying the facts. Rather than keeping himself busy talking to news reporters, he should have ensured that Crisis Management Committee reports to him personally. Governor should also have directed the Cabinet Secretary and the Chief Secretary to report to him directly. When the Chief Minister of a state is missing or dead or incapacitated, entire Cabinet is deemed dissolved. This is a kind of constitutional crisis. In such situation, Governor’s role is crucial.

Governor Secretariat’s primary responsibility was to take overall control of the situation. If this happened, conflicting news reports would not have appeared. Everyone – Advisers to MPs- was interested to appear before national television with ‘I know the best’ mentality. When the Government has its own spokesperson, what was the necessity and urgency for the MPs, Advisers and other Ministers to speak to the media?

There remain some questions unanswered. Why was the Chief Minister allowed to fly single engine chopper, against standard protocol? Who gave weather clearance certificate, when the Speaker of Lok Sabha cancelled her trip to Tawang because of inclement weather?  If Chief Minister’s chopper had landed in Bhutan, how was its debris found near Chinese border? Why was the Government of India reluctant to seek assistance or information from China? Why should our External Affairs Minister claim that Dorjee Khandu is ‘a great son of India’? Why can’t the state have standing Crisis Management Committee to be put into action whenever need arises?

India’s Chief of Army Staff still maintains that India is equally competent to carry an operation similar to Geronimo-E KIA. The other day, in a national seminar, Principal Adviser to the Chief Minister, Kiren Rijiju was too competent that mega dams in Arunachal Pradesh can be constructed to withstand earthquakes of 7-8 magnitude. His argument was that if Japan can, why can’t India? Perhaps he forgot that Indian engineers constructed a footbridge in recently held Commonwealth Games, which scattered like a pack of cards. Indian Army Chief perhaps did not know that ISRO and Sukhoi-30 aircrafts, assisted by Indian Army, failed to locate the debris of the Chief Minister’s chopper. It was the determined local people who managed to locate the debris. One more question remains: do we have to locate and defend ourselves in the event of any external aggression?

(Bath is a faculty in department of Political Science, RGU. He can be contacted at [email protected])


AITF demands apology and

HPC to probe chopper crash

ITANAGAR, May 6: Arunachal Indigenous Tribes Forum (AITF) in its emergency meeting held today at Itanagar, expressed deep shock and anxiety over the untimely demise of Chief Minister Late Dorjee Khandu and four others in a Pawanhans helicopter crash.

AITF demanded an apology from various authorities concerned and sought exemplary punishment to them for misleading the entire people of Arunachal Pradesh by giving false statements to various media based on unconfirmed hoax calls about the safe landing of late Chief Minister and four others on 30th April which delayed the rescue operation for half a day.

People of Arunachal deserve and seek accountability from the authority concerned and people shall not forgive and forget till they know what had gone wrong and the people responsible to it are given exemplary punishment. Questioning the lethargic response of state and central leaders and non deployment of all possible technological and other logistic means in the initial periods of searching, AITF seek an independent probe by constituting High Power Commission, with not less than sitting or retired Supreme Court Judge, to unearth the truth of all episodes including hoax calls, the offices and officers involved, security lapses, lack of coordination in search operation, and all other related issues as the office of Governor, Home Minister, Chief Minister’s Secretariat, and other important offices were involved in misleading the people.

AITF is not happy at all with the state governments’ response to crisis management as none of the state cabinet ministers reached and coordinated from the main spot or nearby areas of accident and had the control and command. All the sitting Cabinet Ministers preferred to give different press statements from Itanagar without reaching out to actual place and people, it said.


Tawang students seek answers

ITANAGAR, May 6: All Tawang district Students Union (ATDSU) has expressed dissatisfaction at the weak action of the central government and military in the search operation of the chopper carrying Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu and four others that crashed.

Students further demanded that ministry of Civil Aviation take immediate action against the PHHL. It appealed the Central Govt to constitute a CBI enquiry to unearth the call made regarding Chief Minister’s safe landing and Governor J.J Singh's statement and rescue efforts. The Union further requested  the new chief Minister Jarbom Gamlin to fulfill his the dreams of Late Khandu.

“We would say that once again not only the central govt but also the media neglected our north-east. For our national news channels IPL matches and Osama are more important than losing a dynamic leader of our nation” the students added. The Union also questioned the silence of BJP on the whole issue.


BJP demands thorough inspection

of Pawan Hans choppers

ITANAGAR, May 6:  While condoling the tragic and untimely death of Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu and four others on April 30, the Central BJP yesterday demanded  immediate, thorough and rigid inspection of all the 40 helicopters with Pawan Hans afresh and assurance of its overall safety to all the passengers.

Pointing out two tragic incidents of Pawan Hans helicopters in Tawang recently, the BJP national spokesperson and MP Prakash Javadekar said  it was the result of total negligence of this vital air services by the Central Govt. It is a wake- up call for the Govt. to act immediately and start total revamp of the Pawan Hans services, the party said.

It is shocking that Pawan Hans has ‘practically’ not acquired new helicopters in last 25 yrs and continues to function with old machines, which has created doubt about the safety of its services, Javadekar said.  The party further demanded immediate Govt approval for the acquisition of 15 new helicopters worth Rs. 600 crore as proposed by the company and the phasing out of old helicopters.

The party said that the present state of affairs of the Pawan Hans Ltd. is the result of total apathy of the Govt. towards its very important service, which serves as lifeline in the North-East. The party hoped that Govt. will come out of its slumber and act swiftly to modernize the copter service and guarantee safety to the passenger.


News Impact

School land allegedly encroached

ITANAGAR, May 6: The Village Education Committee (VEC), teaching staff of Govt Primary School, Doni-Dokum Colony and general public and welfare committee members of Doni-Dokum Colony, Itanagar, in a joint memorandum appealed to the local MLA, Capital district administration and DDSE  to evict the encroachers of  school land immediately.

VEC chairman Lindum Taying  in a release today claimed  that the  encroachers  also damaged school properties. Though an FIR was lodged on May 4 to Itanagar PS informing about the destruction of school office, no action has been taken yet, Taying said and appealed to the Papum Pare SP to look into the matter.


In-service teachers training

ITANAGAR, May 6: A four day district level training programme for in-service teachers on multilingual, ADEPTS, CCE and capacity building for RPs/BRPs of Kurung Kumey district under SSA began at BRC Building Palin on May 4 last.

The inaugural function was attended by DPC SSA Takam Changdeep as chief guest. He advised the trainees to maintain discipline and devote in their duties.

Coordinator (pedagogy) Toku Tachung along with other official team from the district also attended the programme.


Mini T 20 cricket underway

ITANAGAR, May 6: Dabbang Yodha Cricket Club is organizing Mini T 20 Cricket Tournament at Don Bosco School Ground, Jully from May 6-8.

The chief guest of the inaugural day Teli Rinso and guest of honour Jully Youth Welfare Association President Taba Niya appreciated the organizers for organising such events to encourage the players of the area and also advised the players to maintain the spirits of sportsmen.

Copyright © 2008, The Arunachal Times Publications Pvt. Ltd., Siang House, Sector - E, Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh - 791111, India

All rights reserved.


We need to be optimistic

Dear Editor,

I’ve witnessed mixed reactions on the account of swearing in of our new CM.  Some happy, some not so happy and some with no judgments.

Many believe that it’s inhuman and cruel that our former CM has not yet been cremated and the new CM has already been sworn in. But I’m of the opinion that it’s unfair to our state to be left without any CM.

There are two sides to every coin. He might not have the perfect record but we need to accept the fact that maybe he was chosen because he had the potential and could actually do something good for our state. The people of Arunachal can only hope that the new CM works wonders without being biased and for the greater good.

As much as we are sad about the demise of our former CM, we need to be very strong, united and optimistic at this point of time. After all we are the ones who vote, aren’t we?


Pura Anu, (on email)



Fulfilling his vision would be the greatest tribute

Dear Editor,

As we anxiously awaited the days of search operation , what we finally have is despair, pain and disturbing realities that our honorable chief minister late Dorjee Khandu is no more with us, it is surely a black day in the history of Arunachal Pradesh as we lost a dynamic, untiring and visionary leader from the state, whose absence will be felt for time immemorial.

As an ordinary citizen of the state I have witnessed various infrastructure development, from the very trans-highway, railways, green          airport, hydroelectric, uplift of women folks to various socio-economic unification under his tenure, and whoever takes his legacy ahead have huge responsibility in proving self and to the people of this state, which the common people of this state will eagerly wait to witness in the days to come.

It is also a high time that we along with state administrators and political leaders stand together in this time of distress and work for fulfilling his vision of "Developed Arunachal" which is the only greatest tribute we could pay to our former chief minister.


Debia Rabbi

Itanagar,  (on email)



Helicopters, terrain, pilots and VIP flight duties

Dear Editor

Last Saturday, a Pawans Hans single engine helicopter took off from Tawang  for Itanagar. Enroute after 20 minutes the helicopter lost contact with the Air Traffic Control and later crashed into the mountains killing the Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh and two other passengers. There were a total of five fatalities including pilots and aircraft was completely destroyed.

With the intention of spreading awareness, to enhance flight safety in this region and understand the events, an analysis, as per initial reports, of the  air disaster is given in the following paragraphs. There is no intention to blame any agency or individual for the accident.   

As per aviation regulations, it is not only mandatory that pilots ferrying VIPs have special training, qualifications and experience but the type of aircraft must be equipped with two engines. With the mountain peaks reaching over 20000 feet in the mountains of Arunachal Pradesh, twin engine  aircraft may only operate. The helicopter ferrying Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu, which crashed last Saturday, was new and  registered in July last year, but it had just one engine and hence was deemed unfit for such terrain and VIP flight duties. The chopper -- AS 350 B3 of Eurocopter, nicknamed "Ecureuil", which means squirrel in French - had a single Turbomeca engine, bore serial number 4991, was registered as VT-PHT on July 7, 2010, and pressed into service in  December last year.

Aviation Safety being the top most priority, it is not understood how VIPs may force pilots to undertake flights under adverse circumstances and also how pilots may find these demands as acceptable because bending or violating flight safety rules would put the lives of everyone at risk. The Pilot-in-Command is the ultimate authority to make a final decision whether to undertake the flight, continue the flight or return to base keeping safety of the passengers and safety of the aircraft foremost in  mind. Even VVIPs do not have the privilege to force pilots to undertake flights during adverse conditions. Therefore, the ultimate responsibility and authority lies with the Pilot-in-Command and a collective decision must be arrived at to ensure that safety of both aircraft and passengers are never compromised under any circumstances. The captain must exercise his authority and over rule decisions by others so that the safety of the flight is  not jeopardized. So the argument that VIPs force pilots may not be acceptable since the overall responsibility and ultimate authority lies with the Pilot-in-Command.  While it is too early to come to a definite conclusion of what actually may  have taken place in the absence of a full fledged inquiry report, on the  face of it and considering the circumstances and first eye witness reports under which the accident occurred and with the evidence gathered, it could have been pilot error. Pilot error does have many connotations but in this context, lack of experience and proper training of the pilots may describe the situation. Here lack of experience and training would be with reference to adequate training and sufficient flying experience in  mountaineous terrain of Arunachal and the North East region alongwith  understanding of everchanging weather conditions. Especially so during the pre-monsoon period, should there be clouding and bad weather enroute then there would be no need to continue the flight and anyway for helicopters to enter clouds and establish Instrument Metereological Conditions (IMC) in mountaineous terrain would be suicidal. In aviation parlance, instrument meteorological conditions refers to a situation that will require the use of only instruments and other equipment inside the  cockpit in the absence of external references so as to ensure and establish a safe flight path. Inability to see anything outside the cockpit due entering clouds in mountaineous terrain especially in a helicopter has many a time lead to disastrous results.

The air route from Tawang to Itanagar is south easterly and an aircraft  has to negotiate Sela Pass and fly at an altitude of about 16000 feet plus and thereafter descend towards Itanagar in a south easterly heading and all the time never losing sight of ground features. What may have happened is that after take off from Tawang, the chopper may have entered clouds and was unable to see anything outside and on approaching Sela pass (approx 14000 feet) may have climbed to about 15000 feet inside clouds when the crew decided to return back to Tawang helipad. In the process of turning and in the absence of external references there was no way of knowing what obstruction or feature may lay ahead, the aircraft crashed into a mountain feature killing all on board including the pilots.

It would have been wise to first visually assess weather before take off and arrive at a final decision and refuse undertaking the flight should there be expected clouding and adverse weather enroute. Even after take off standard flight procedures in this mountaineous sector in adverse weather conditions require that visual contact with ground is never lost and if likely to enter clouds then decision has to be made to return while all the time keeping visual contact with ground features and then carry out a safe visual landing at the helipad. However, the final investigation reports would determine and pin point the exact cause of the fatal crash so that we may learn many more lessons but the fact remains that passengers who remain mute spectators sometimes pay a heavy price.  


Wing Commander

Rajeev Dong

Deputy Director Rajya Sainik Board

Nagaland (on email)



Fleet of flying coffins

Dear Editor,

First of all expressing deep sorrow over the demise of our CM, I offer my prayers to almighty god to give him eternal peace.

The incident of malfunction in the chopper of Defence minister of India A K Anthony, in the backdrop of all these chopper crashes, points at a flaw in the system itself. It looks as though India is operating a fleet of flying coffins.  

On the other hand, Pawan Hans should be made accountable for the technical failures or human error that had led to lose of so many lives including Chief Minister.


Khunwang,  RGU






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