Confusion over Khandu's helicopter remains

Last Updated: Sun, May 01, 2011 16:52 hrs

Itanagar: Confusion over the whereabouts of Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu and others onboard the Pawan Hans helicopter which is yet to be traced, remains with an initial report of his landing in Bhutan being denied later.

The Chief Minister's office had said on Saturday that Khandu's helicopter had to make an emergency landing due to a technical snag near Tawang, but inside Bhutanese territory.

Two other passengers accompanying the Chief Minister and two crew members of the Pawan Hans Eurocopter B3 craft were also safe, the CM's office said.

It was also reported from the Raj Bhavan with Governor J J Singh speaking to television channels about Khandu's reported landing in Bhutan.

Chief Secretary Tabom Bam said in the afternoon that the chopper which lost contact with ATC in the morning had landed safely at Daporijo in Upper Subansiri around 2:30 pm.

Bam said that he was not been able to contact Khandu personally, but the Sashastra Seema Bal had confirmed that Khandu and those with him were safe. "The IGP (SSB) has confirmed he is safe."

In the evening, SSB IGP Sanjeev Singhal in a statement to a daily said, "In the initial information we had said the helicopter had landed somewhere along the Arunachal-Bhutan border and that everyone was safe. Subsequently, when we tried to pinpoint the location and the timing, there was no confirmation. The situation remains the same."

Commissioner, Civil Aviation, Hage Khoda, said the area where the chopper had landed along the Arunachal-Bhutan border was about 15 nautical miles from Tawang.

Intelligence agencies were looking into an alleged satellite phone call that was received by an unnamed Congress MLA close to Khandu some time in the afternoon.

The MLA told the chief secretary and the principal secretary to the chief minister that 'he believed' it was Khandu who called him. The caller apparently said 'he was taking off' presumably from somewhere in Bhutan.

IGP S B K Singh in a letter to the home commissioner yesterday said "the principal secretary to Khandu has received a call saying that the chopper landed safely in Bhutan. I contacted him and he informed me that he did recognise the caller on the other side as Khandu, but could not confirm the identity."

The IGP in his letter also mentioned he had contacted IG SSB Sanjoy Singhal to authenticate the information who disclosed that his office in Delhi had received the information that the helicopter had landed safely.

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