Maoists urged to trace missing chopper crew

August 23rd, 2008 - 5:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Raipur, Aug 23 (IANS) Relatives of four crew members of a helicopter missing since Aug 3 in the hotbed of Maoist activity in Chhattisgarh Saturday appealed to the rebels to search for their kin in the vast forested areas they command.The relatives of pilot V.P. Singh, co-pilot R.S. Gaur, engineer Santosh and technician Ashwani, who were on board the Bell-430 Ran Air helicopter, said: “No one can understand our agony. We appeal to the Maoists to show humanity and search for our family members.”

The chopper went missing Aug 3 afternoon en route to Raipur from Hyderabad.

The helicopter was hired by the Chhattisgarh government and was scheduled to land at Jagdalpur in Bastar district for refuelling, but it never landed.

Authorities in Dantewada district in southern Chhattisgarh have announced a reward of Rs.100,000 to anyone providing information about the helicopter but to no avail.

After scanning the vast forested area of Bastar region, the police believe the chopper crashed in a thick forested stretch of either Dantewada, Bijapur or in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh.

An Indian Air Force chopper and one from Ran Air also flew several times over the region to locate the chopper but without success.

The relatives of the missing crew met the state’s Home Minister Ram Vichar Netam early this week and said they were not happy with the efforts of the Chhattisgarh police to locate them.

Police officials here, however, maintain they have done their best.

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