This Article is From May 04, 2011

Arunachal Chief Minister's son joins search party

Arunachal Chief Minister's son joins search party
New Delhi: Even as Defence choppers took-off to search for the missing Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister on Wednesday morning, Dorjee Khandu's son Tashi Tsering Khandu is on a foot-march into the eastern Himalayas to find his father's chopper.

Tashi has been trekking into Bhutan's snowy mountains with a search party since Sunday, scanning the forested areas, in search of his father.

For five days now, the sensitive border state is virtually without a Chief Minister. The helicopter carrying Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu and four others went missing on Saturday. The base received last communication from the chopper while it was flying over the Sela Pass along the Chinese border after taking off from Tawang on Saturday.

Inclement weather has been the biggest hurdle in rescue operations, though on Wednesday the weather was clear in the region enabling rescue helicopters to take-off in search ops.

Meanwhile, prayers are being conducted across the state. Monks at Itanagar's Buddhist study centre are praying for the safe return of Dorjee Khandu and his fellow passengers. The Arunachal Pradesh Government also announced a reward of Rs 10 lakh for information about the chopper.

Images taken by Sukhoi radars and micro-satellite of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) pointed traces of metallic objects in at least three places. But it's still not clear if this is the wreckage of a chopper.

In all, seven locations around the Sela Pass and the Dirang area have been identified for combing ops.

"The terrain is very high... 13,000 feet... it's raining and snowing. You need trained people to climb the steep hills. Our forces are operating in difficult conditions," said Mr Narayanswamy, MoS at the Prime Minister's Office.

Arunachal shares a sensitive border with China and the Centre does not want to see a political vacuum here.

But with locals still hoping for Dorjee's safe return, naming a caretaker may send a wrong signal.

"Our leadership is aware of the situation. From time to time, we have been giving them feedback on the search ops and the other issue you have raised. It is in the knowledge of our high command," said Mr Narayanswamy.

"Everyone in Arunachal is worried. We are praying for Dorjee and the other's safety," said Sonam Wanghchuk, Secretary, Buddhst Study Centre.

While officials are trying to rely on Sukhoi radars and ISRO pictures to find the exact spot, others are still praying for a miracle.