The Tamil Nadu Police had a ‘Z-plus’ security arrangement in place for the visiting Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat from the Sulur Air Base to the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington.
According to police sources, the Coimbatore City Police had deployed Z-plus security cover for Gen. Rawat, who was to have addressed cadets at the venue. “We also had a convoy ready and posted security personnel along the road route from the Sulur Air Base to Wellington as a contingency arrangement in case the VIP chose to travel by road,” a senior police officer told The Hindu .
The Coonoor Police Inspector was among the first responders to the crash site located about 10 km from the helipad in Wellington where the Mi-17V5 helicopter was to have landed. Quoting an eyewitness who saw the helicopter going down, another police officer who visited the scene of the crash said the weather was not cloudy.
“A resident who lives close to the crash site said that he saw the helicopter flying at a very low altitude. It took a turn and crashed after hitting a jackfruit tree with a loud explosion. It was not cloudy when the incident took place…,” the officer, who spoke on conditions of anonymity, said.
Parrying questions over why the helicopter had flown at such low altitude, and whether there was any SOS from the pilot to the Air Traffic Control or the Army control, the officer said that the circumstances that led to the crash were under investigation.
Immediately after learning about the crash of the defence helicopter, Inspector General of Police (West Zone) R. Sudhakar rushed to the area from Coimbatore. A team of the Special Task Force deployed in anti-Maoist operations in the Nilgiris district was also directed to move to the spot for relief and rescue operations.
Tamil Nadu Director General of Police C. Sylendra Babu, Additional Director General of Police/Chief of Intelligence S. Davidson Devasirvatham and other senior officers are camping in Coimbatore, police sources added.