The Andhra Pradesh government on Monday ordered a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the September 2 helicopter crash in the Nallamala forests in which Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy and four others were killed.

Earlier, Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram readily agreed to the request for a CBI inquiry made by Chief Minister K. Rosaiah in a letter to him.

Besides, a committee comprising M.R. Reddy, retired IPS officer and expert in VIP security; and the former Director-General of Civil Aviation, H.S. Khosla, was constituted to inquire into the circumstances that existed “before, during and after” the Bell-430 helicopter crashed. It would submit its report within 60 days.

The investigations would be held in addition to two separate inquiries already being conducted by the DGCA and the Criminal Investigation Department of the State police.

Talks with ministers

These decisions were taken after Mr. Rosaiah held discussions with ministers and officials on the recommendations of a committee led by Home Minister P. Sabitha Reddy. Agriculture Minister N. Raghuveera Reddy, Chief Secretary P. Ramakanth Reddy, Director-General of Police S.S.P. Yadav and Additional DGP (Intelligence) K. Aravinda Rao were the other members of the committee.

Briefing journalists, Ms. Sabitha Reddy and Mr. Raghuveera Reddy said they did not see any problem in field-level coordination among the four different inquiries. Ms. Reddy said each inquiry body would be independent, but would work in cohesion with the others, and the material and findings could be shared among them.

“The purpose of each inquiry is different. The DGCA is dealing with technical aspects of the crash, while the CID is looking into other reasons like negligence. The experts committee, on the other hand, will go into the circumstances that prevailed before, during and after the crash, while the CBI will cover the entire gamut of the tragedy.”

The two Ministers said it was the responsibility of the government to dispel doubts raised about the circumstances that led to the crash. One such doubt was why the Bell-430 helicopter, which had been confined to the hangar at the Begumpet airport here for long, was allowed to fly and whether the DGCA had given clearance for taking it out.

The CBI and the experts committee would also focus on why pilot S.K. Bhatia deviated 18 km from the original flight path, and identify lapses on the part of the administration, if any, which led to the crash.

To a question, the Home Minister dismissed as “untrue” reports that RDX was found at the crash site.


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