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India's air tragedy: Politicians in fatal crashes

Last updated on: May 10, 2012 09:58 IST

India's air tragedy: Politicians in fatal crashes

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Jharkhand Chief Minister Arjun Munda had a close shave on Wednesday when his chopper crash-landed at the Ranchi airport. Though Munda is said to have sustained minor injuries and was lucky to escape there are many politicians who over the years have met untimely deaths in chopper and airplane crashes. Rediff.com takes a look at some of these most tragic air mishaps.

Arjun Munda

The Jharkhand chief minister had a narrow escape on Wednesday when the after his helicopter crash-landed at the Ranchi airport. Travelling along with Munda was his wife and two pilots.

They were rushed to the hospital. Munda was in the Intensive Care Unit but is said to be in a stable condition.

Police sources said that the helicopter crashed because of a technical snag. Regulatory body Directorate General of Civil Aviation has ordered a probe into the accident.

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Image: Chopper of Jharkhand CM Arjun Munda (inset) crash landed at Ranchi airport
Photographs: Video grab

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Dorjee Khandu

Five days after the helicopter that he was using went missing, Arunachal Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu was found dead in Luguthang, near the China border on May 4 last year.

The four other people on board with him -- the two pilots, Captain J S Babbar and Captain T S Mamik, the chief minister's security officer Yeshi Choddak and Yeshi Lhamu, sister of a Tawang member of Legislative Assembly -- also died.

Khandu had left Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh in a Pawan Hans helicopter. He was headed to Itanagar. The helicopter lost contact 20 minutes after it took off as it approached Sela Pass 13,000 feet above sea level.

Bad weather is said to have added to complexity of the navigation in an area which is known to be challenging to pilots.


Image: Supporters follow the body of Dorjee Khandu, the then Arunachal Pradesh CM, during a procession at Itanagar May 5, 2011
Photographs: Reuters

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India's air tragedy: Politicians in fatal crashes

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Y S Rajasekhara Reddy

The chopper of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy crashed in a forest while flying in a Bell 430 to Chitoor district on September 3, 2009. His body was traced 27 hours after the helicopter went missing.

The helicopter carrying YSR, two of his staff and two pilots went missing in pouring rain over the Naxal and tiger-infested Nalamalla forests.

The then CM left Hyderabad on a six-seater Bell chopper at 8.35am accompanied by his secretary and chief security officer. After 9.27am, radio contact was lost with the helicopter.


Image: Thousands join the funeral procession of Y S Rajasekhara Reddy (inset) who was killed in an air crash in September 2009
Photographs: Snaps India

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India's air tragedy: Politicians in fatal crashes

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O P Jindal

O P Jindal, the then Haryana power minister and a noted industrialist, and state agriculture minister Surendra Singh were killed when the chopper carrying them developed a technical snag and went down near Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh on March 31, 2005.

Two persons -- Ved Goyal, a relative of Jindal, and head constable Vinod Kumar - who were also on board the helicopter were injured in the crash.

The pilot, T S Chauhan, died on way to the hospital.


Image: O P Jindal, former Haryana power minister


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India's air tragedy: Politicians in fatal crashes

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G M C Balayogi

Lok Sabha Speaker and Telugu Desam Party leader G M C Balayogi died on March 3, 2002 when a private helicopter in which he was travelling crashed while trying to make an emergency landing at Kovvadalanka village in Kolleru area of Krishna district in Andhra Pradesh.

His assistant secretary, Sathi Raju, and pilot, G V Menon, were also killed.

Balayogi was in a Bell 206 helicopter. An official probe ruled that the crash was caused when the pilot, unable to continue due to poor visibility, mistakenly landed in a pond thinking it was land.


Image: G M C Balayogi


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India's air tragedy: Politicians in fatal crashes

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Madhavrao Scindia

Madhavrao Scindia, a senior Congress leader and a former Union cabinet minister, was killed in a Cessna aircraft crash on September 30, 2001 while travelling to Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh to address a public rally.

Six others traveling with him were also killed when the private plane crashed on the outskirts of Manipuri district, 172 km from Kanpur.

Scindia was traveling in a 10-seater C-90, which took off from Delhi. The pilot lost contact with the ATC, Delhi, was not in contact with the ATC, Lucknow. Bad weather, coupled with a possible cloudburst, probably caused the crash.


Image: Madhavrao Scindia, senior Congress leader


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India's air tragedy: Politicians in fatal crashes

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Sanjay Gandhi

Sanjay Gandhi, the younger son of former PM Indira Gandhi, was killed when a glider he was flying crashed soon after taking off from the Safdarjung airport in Delhi on June 23, 1980.

He was flying a new aircraft of the Delhi Flying club, and, while performing a loop over his office, lost control and crashed. The only other person in the plane, Captain Subhash Saxena, was also killed in the crash.



Image: Sanjay Gandhi addressing a public meeting during a visit to the West Bengal, June 2 1976
Photographs: Getty Images

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India's air tragedy: Politicians in fatal crashes

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Other politicians who had a lucky escape

Like Munda, there were a few who were lucky. Former PM Morarji Desai had escaped when his aircraft crashed in Assam in November 1977. P K Thungon, the then Arunachal CM, who was accompanying him, also survived.

Congress leader Ahmed Patel and Maharashta CM Prithviraj Chavan miraculously escaped a crash in 2004 in Gujarat.

Former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh survived an accident after the helicopter he was travelling in hit electrical wires soon after taking off in Gurdaspur in September 2006.

BJP president Rajnath Singh and vice president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi had a miraculous escape in 2010 when they were travelling to Rampur in Uttar Pradesh. The chopper landed close to a pile of dry grass that caught fire. The pilot immediately took off again and landed at a safe place.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot escaped after his helicopter hit a tree in Churu district in 2001.



Image: (Clockwise) Morarji Desai, Prithviraj Chavan, Ashok Gehlot, Rajnath Singh, Amarinder Singh


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