The Indian Air Force chopper after the emergency landing at Baguria in Ghatshila on Thursday. Picture by Animesh Sengupta
Galudih (Ghatshila), May 8: An Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopter made an emergency landing in a Maoist stronghold of Ghatshila subdivision, triggering security concerns that prompted the district administration to rush additional forces to the spot.
The utility helicopter, carrying 12 CRPF personnel to Ranchi, developed snags soon after it took off from Kalaikunda airbase in West Midnapore district of neighbouring Bengal.
Eventually, the pilot was forced to touch down around 8.30am on a paddy field in Baguria, a stone’s-throw from Asonboni where 40 rebels had apparently held a meeting last night.
Another IAF chopper with technical experts on board arrived at the spot within half-an-hour. However, the local administration and security forces spent three anxious hours, the time it took the AIF team to fix the snags.
Eventually, both choppers took off, one after another, around 11.30am.
As soon as the defective chopper landed on the paddy field, the CRPF personnel on board got off and took positions.
East Singhbhum superintendent of police (rural) Shailendra Kumar Srivastava conceded that the administration was concerned, especially because rebels had been active in the region.
“The IAF pilot informed the district police about the emergency landing and we provided them necessary security cover,” he added.
A contingent of 50 personnel, comprising 25 paramilitary jawans and as many cops, was rushed to the spot.
A senior police officer admitted that a helicopter with securitymen making an emergency landing in a rebel-hit area was nothing short of a nightmare.
“A Maoist squad, comprising 40 senior leaders, met in Asonboni last night. Also, some rebels torched a dumper carrying uranium ore in adjoining Mosabani block. A forced landing by any helicopter becomes a risky matter,” he added.
Local villagers pointed out, senior JMM leader Sunil Mahto was gunned down by Naxalites on March 4, 2007, merely 100m away from the spot where the flying machine landed today.
However, the twin IAF flying machines were a pleasant surprise for the villagers, who thronged the paddy field in large numbers.
“Men, women and children, all rushed to the spot where the choppers were parked. We could not get close as armed personnel had cordoned off the field,” said Ramdhani Soren, a local resident.
Another villager, Hiralal Soren, said, “I saw a chopper crossing the sky of Baguria, but it was making an unusual sound. It was as if the wings would come off anytime. The next moment I saw it hovering low and make the emergency landing.”