Ahead of I-day, cops search for missing chopper

August 12th, 2008 - 3:08 pm ICT by IANS  


Raipur, Aug 12 (IANS) Amid apprehension of Maoist attacks on Independence day, thousands of policemen deployed in Chhattisgarh’s southern Bastar region, considered to be rebels’ terror nerve centre, combed forests in search of a helicopter missing since Aug 3. The Maoist guerrillas have given a call for Independence Day boycott and asked people to stay away from hoisting the tri-colour and attending government cultural functions Aug 15.

About 2,000 policemen along with the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and special police officers (SPOs) are engaged in combing operations to locate a private chopper and its possible survivors in Dantewada, one of India’s worst insurgency hit districts.

The Bell-430 Ran Air chopper was scheduled to land at Jagdalpur, district headquarters of Bastar, for refuelling en route to the capital Raipur after it took off from Hyderabad August 3 afternoon.

The helicopter, which was hired by the Chhattisgarh government, did not land at its destination. It had four crew on board - pilot V.P. Singh, co-pilot R.S. Gaur, engineer Santosh and technician Ashwani.

“The police are caught in quite an unusual situation. Normally on I-Day and Republic Day functions, the police deployment is strengthened in and around government installations and police facilities due to high risk of Maoist attacks,” an official posted at the police headquarters here told IANS Tuesday.

The official said: “We don’t want to highlight what kind of preparations the police have made on this I-day to tackle Maoist violence, but it’s a fact that lot of cops are in Dantewada district for past one week for quite an unusual task of getting any clue of the missing chopper.”

“How can I give up on humanity, especially when family of the missing crew members are around us and hoping that the police would find the crew members, who may even be alive,” said Rahul Sharma, superintendent of police, Dantewada, even as the crew members’ relatives had stationed themselves in the district to request the police to step up the search operation.

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