Monday, October 1, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Madhavrao Scindia dead
Four scribes too die in plane crash
Tribune News Service

File photo of Senior Congress leader Madhavrao Scindia who is seen with Congress President Sonia Gandhi at a function in Rashtrapati Bhavan. — PTI photo

New Delhi, September 30
Congress leader and scion of Gwalior royal family Madhavrao Scindia along with seven others including four journalists, died when the private plane carrying them crashed in a paddy field near Motta Railway station in Mainpuri district, 200 km from Kanpur.

Mr Scindia was to address a public meeting at Kanpur this evening as part of Privartan Yatras being organised by the Congress in Uttar Pradesh.

The 10-seater VT-6FF plane belonging to Jindal group, carrying eight persons, caught fire after it nose-dived into a field.

Among those killed were Mr Scindia’s secretary Rupinder Singh, and journalists — Anju Sharma (Hindustan Times), Sanjiv Sinha (The Indian Express), Ranjan Jha (Aaj Tak) and Gopal Bisht (cameraman). Plane’s pilot Ray Gautam and co-pilot Ritu were also killed.

Anju Sharma
File photo of Hindustan Times reporter Anju Sharma.

Sanjiv Sinha
File photo of Indian Express reporter Sanjiv Sinha. — PTI photos

Home Minister L.K.Advani today said bodies of all eight victims of the air crash had been extricated. The body of the eighth victim, Rupinder Singh, private secretary to the late leader, could be recovered about four hours after the crash as it was trapped between the wings of the aircraft, Mr Advani said.

The public meeting which Mr Scindia was to address this afternoon was cancelled abruptly while speeches were being made.

According to Civil Aviation Minister Syed Shahnawaz Hussain, the plane left New Delhi at 12.49 pm and was to reach Kanpur at 1.50 pm. However, it lost contact with the Lucknow Air Traffic Control at 1.30 pm.

Uttar Pradesh Principal Secretary (Home) Naresh Dayal said that senior civil and police officials had rushed to the site of the mishap. Inclement weather and poor visibility appeared to have been among the causes of the crash.

Senior Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dixit, who were to accompany Mr Scindia to the Kanpur rally, had an escape as they did not board the plane for personal reasons. Mr Scindia’s son, who was in Mumbai, is reaching Delhi.

A pall of gloom descended on Mr Scindia’s Safdarjung residence and the AICC office here after the news of the mishap landed. Congress president Sonia Gandhi, her daughter Priyanka Vadra, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dixit were among party leaders who rushed reached Mr Scindia’s house.

Home Minister L.K. Advani, Minister for Law, Justice and Company Affairs Arun Jaitley also visited Mr Scindia’s residence.

Meanwhile, the Director General Civil Aviation has ordered an inquiry into the mishap.


Scindia’s death ‘setback to Cong’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 30
There was gloom in Congress circles in the entire region as news of the death of Mr Madhavrao Scindia in an air crash spread.

The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief, Capt Amarinder Singh, who was in Gurdaspur, said that he was shocked to learn about the tragic accident.

“We have lost one of our most dynamic leaders. The loss is not only of the Congress but also of the entire nation,” he said maintaining that he was one of the few politicians who only not had a clean image but was also a brilliant person, a keen administrator and a selfless and disciplined soldier of the party who always took up the cause of deserving people.

“It is a major setback to the party to lose a person like him at this crucial juncture,” the PPCC chief said.

Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, leader of the Punjab Congress Parliamentary Party, said that besides the Congress, the nation too was a loser in his death. “People like Mr Madhavrao Scindia belonged to the rare breed of honest, down-to-earth, intelligent politicians who always placed the party above themselves. His loss is irreparable. Though he belonged to Madhya Pradesh, he always stood by Punjab and its people. In his death we have lost a great friend, a proud son of the country and a leader with a spotless record,” Mr Brar added.

The Governor of Punjab-cum-Administrator of Chandigarh, Lt-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd), expressed deep shock over the sudden death of Mr Scindia.

General Jacob said that Mr Scindia would be remembered as a young, dynamic and visionary leader who was loved not only by the people of Gwalior but also all over the country. He expressed his heartfelt sympathies with the bereaved family and prayed to God to grant peace to the departed soul.

He also mourned the death of all members of a team of journalists of various newspapers and TV channels who died in the air crash along with Mr Scindia.

The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, mourned the death of Mr Scindia, describing him as a “gentleman politician”. He said that in his death the country had lost an illustrious son and a brilliant politician. He offered his condolences to the bereaved family.

Mr Badal also mourned the death of all those who were killed in the crash along with Mr Scindia.

The Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, expressed shock over the tragic accident saying that the country needed men like Mr Scindia.

His death had created a void which would be difficult to fill in the coming years, he said and conveyed his heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family.

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