Crime branch begins probe into Ambani chopper ’sabotage’

April 25th, 2009 - 7:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, April 25 (IANS) The Mumbai police Crime Branch Saturday started investigations into the suspected sabotage of a private helicopter owned by industrialist Anil Ambani, whose company has alleged a conspiracy to kill him, a top police official said.
“We have got the relevant case papers this morning. We are studying it and our own investigations have begun,” Joint Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria told IANS.

He added there are no further detentions or suspects in addition to the preliminary investigations carried out by the Santa Cruz police Station. “We shall examine all aspects of the case and act accordingly,” Maria said.

The Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG) had Friday evening shot off a letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, Home Minister Jayant Patil and other top bureaucrats and police officials, speaking of “a conspiracy to kill its chairman Anil Ambani”.

Following the strongly-worded letter, the state government decided to hand the matter to the Crime Branch, which has taken over the case from the Stanta Cruz police.

Ambani’s 13-seater twin-engine Bell 412 helicopter was found “tampered” with Thursday evening. The matter was discovered by a staffer of the Air Works Engineering India Pvt Ltd, which had been maintaining it since October 2006.

The staffer found pebbles, stones and gravel inside the gear box fuel tank, which could have led to a major disaster if undetected and the chopper had taken flight.

ADAG’s angry reaction was prompted by the fact that Ambani and a team of nine top officials of Reliance Infocomm were scheduled to fly in the chopper the next day from Mumbai to Navi Mumbai, a 20-minute flight.

Stunned by the ADAG charges of the possible involvement of its staffers, Air Works Engineering India Pvt Ltd Saturday enhanced security and personnel procedures at its Santa Cruz facility, according to a statement here Saturday.

Apart from enhancing the existing security at its hangar, additional personnel and procedures have been put in place to ensure that such incidents are prevented.

“Air Works has re-inspected all other aircraft under its management to ensure the safety of its customers,” the statement said.

Assuring that it has taken “the matter extremely seriously”, Air Works is in talks with ADAG to replace the damaged component of the helicopter and get the chopper airworthy at the earliest, it added.

The company has also taken all its 52 non-technical staff off duty till investigations are completed.

-Indo-Asian News Service

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