Ranchi, Aug. 16: Director-general of police Rajeev Kumar, six other senior police officers and two crew members of the BSF-operated Dhruv had a close shave this morning when the helicopter’s tyres sank on a newly improvised helipad at rebel-hit Leslieganj under Palamau district, about 180km from the capital.
The top brass had flown from Ranchi around 8.30am to attend the passing-out parade of JAP companies of three districts under the Palamau commissionary. During the landing around 9am, the copter’s tyres sank around half-feet, causing the aircraft to tilt.
Local sources, however, said the cemented helipad had not yet “set”.
Though the nine persons on board were unhurt, the incident, which serves as a pointer to the state of the hurriedly erected helipads in Jharkhand, has prompted the local BSF to report the matter to New Delhi headquarters.
DGP Kumar apart, others in the chopper were additional-director generals of police S.N. Pradhan and K.N. Choubey, inspector-general (training) Umesh Kumar Singh, inspector-general (operations and coal belt) M.L. Meena, zonal inspector-general (Ranchi) M.S. Bhatia, deputy superintendent of police Vijay Kumar and pilots Kewal Singh and S.P. Sharma.
“When the chopper landed, it tilted a bit. Thank god nothing big happened,” DGP Kumar said.
ADG Pradhan said it appeared the ground beneath the cemented helipad structure was “moist”.
BSF sources said when tyres showed signs of sinking, “intelligent pilots” ensured helicopter rudders kept running even as the police officers disembarked. The aircraft took off immediately for the Chiyanki aerodrome.
Once the parade was over, the police officers drove to Chiyanki where the copter waited and flew back to Ranchi around 3 in the afternoon.
Though the police tried to downplay the entire episode, sources confided minor mistakes in these situations could snowball into a major accident. For instance, had the tyres stayed stuck, the chopper’s brakes would have stopped functioning.
BSF manages and maintains two helicopters made by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Bangalore, called Dhruv, for rebel combat.