The body of Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu was flown here from Tawang on an Mi-172 helicopter of the Indian Air Force (IAF) on Thursday. It will be kept at his official residence for two days to enable the public to pay their last respects and flown back to Tawang on Friday for the completion of the last rites in accordance with the tradition of the Monpa tribe, to which he belonged.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi are expected to visit the State on Friday to pay their homage to the departed leader.

Villagers carried the body from the crash site for nearly two hours to Luguthang early in the morning, after which it was taken to Tawang by road for post mortem. The bodies of the other four victims were later retrieved. While the bodies of the pilots Captain T.S. Manik and Captain J.S. Babbar were received by the Army, those of Mr. Khandu's personal security officer Yeshi Chodak and Yeshi Lhamu, sister of Tsewang Dhondup, Congress MLA from Tawang, were handed over to their family members.

In the State capital, thousands of mourners lined up on both sides of the entire two-and-a-half-kilometre route from the helipad at the Raj Bhawan to the official residence of Mr. Khandu to have a glimpse of their beloved leader and pay tributes. Only the whooping sound of the helicopter rotor blades pierced the stilly silence in the city, which observed a total shut-down as a mark of respect to the late Chief Minister. The State government has declared a seven-day State mourning. The Assam government too declared three days of State mourning from Thursday.

Among the family members who accompanied the body from Tawang in the chopper, were his wife Rinchin Drema, eldest son Pema, and second son Tashi.

Jarbom Gamlin new CM

Power Minister Jarbom Gamlin is set to be sworn in as the new Chief Minister. Born in 1961, Mr. Gamlin is a product of St. Stephen's College, Delhi and is a law graduate from Delhi University. He was a former president of the All Arunachal Pradesh Students Union.

“An able administrator”

New Delhi Special Correspondent writes:

A special meeting of the Union Cabinet was convened here on Thursday to condole Mr. Khandu's death. In a resolution adopted on the occasion, the meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, noted that through several new initiatives, he helped establish synergy between the schemes of the State and Central governments.

“As a strong votary of citizen-centric administration and with the motto of ‘people first,' he introduced ‘third party monitoring system' for ensuring transparency in developmental works,” it added.

President Pratibha Patil, Vice-President Hamid Ansari, and Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, in separate condolence messages, noted that the nation had lost an eminent leader, an able administrator and a compassionate human being, who was committed to all-round development.