Tuesday, October 2, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Bolt from the blue: Vajpayee
Tribune News Service

President K. R.  Naryanan paying last respect to late Congress leader Madhavrao Scindia at his residence in New Delhi on Monday.

Jyotiraditya, son of Madhavrao Scindia, seems to be lost in deep thought in front of his father's coffin at the Palam technical area in Delhi on Monday morning. — PTI photos

New Delhi, October 1
President K.R. Narayanan, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Leader of the Opposition Sonia Gandhi led the nation in paying homage to Congress leader Madhavrao Scindia.

Mrs Gandhi, along with several Congress Working Committee members, received the body of Mr Scindia when it arrived here early today. She later spent several hours at Mr Scindia’s residence consoling the bereaved relatives.

The body was brought to Mr Scindia’s house in an ambulance from the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences, where a post-mortem was conducted.

Mr Scindia’s son Jyotiraditya alighted from the vehicle and took the body inside with help of a few people.

Ms Vasundhra Raje, Minister of State for Small Scale Industry, and Ms Yashodhra Raje, MLA, both sisters of Mr Scindia, reached here from London today. Mr Scindia’s third sister, who is married in Nepal, also reached his Safdarjung residence today.

Former Prime Ministers Chandra Shekhar and I.K. Gujral, several union ministers and Congress workers were among hundreds of visitors at Mr Scindia’s residence who paid their last respects.

The body will be kept at the AICC headquarters for about two hours tomorrow before being flown to his native place Gwalior by a special aircraft. The cremation will take place on Thursday afternoon.

“It is a bolt from the blue,” Mr Vajpayee wrote in the visitors’ book after paying tributes to Mr Scindia at his residence.

“Vajrapat ho gaya. Kya kaal itna bhi kroor ho sakta hai”? Mr Vajpayee wrote after laying a wreath on Mr Scindia’s body.

The Prime Minister spent around 15 minutes at Mr Scindia’s residence and was seen consoling the family members. The bodies of Mr Scindia and seven others killed in the plane crash were brought here from Agra by a special Indian Air Force plane and taken to AIIMS.

Post-mortem was also conducted on the bodies of others killed in the crash, journalists Ranjan Jha, Anju Sharma, Sanjiv Sinha and Gopal Bisht, Scindia’s personal assistant Rupinder Singh and the two pilots of the plane.

The body of Anju Sharma was cremated today at the Nigambodh Ghat Electric Crematorium. A large number of mediapersons besides union ministers, and family members paid their last respects to the departed soul. 


‘Poor upkeep, VIP pressure led to plane crash’
K. R. Wadhwaney

Ritu Malik
Ritu Malik

New Delhi, October 1
Unpredictable weather, over-confidence born out of insufficient experience, poor maintenance of the aircraft and pressure from the VIP for a time-bound public meeting at Kanpur are some of the major causes for the tragic plane crash on the outskirts of Mainpuri district (UP) on Sunday afternoon.

According to a Lucknow Airport official, visibility in the vicinity was so poor that a helicopter and aircraft returned to their bases, as directed by Air Traffic Control personnel.

Lucknow’s Vivek Gupta, accompanied by a co-pilot Ritu Malik, who was on her maiden flight, continued flying despite poor visibility.

The Cessna C-90 aircraft, owned by Jindals, had not been subjected to rigorous maintenance checks, as stipulated by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). Many aircraft, owned by industrialists and used often by politicians for rallies and public meetings, circumvent checks because of their contacts with the powers that-be.

Capt Gupta, young and enterprising pilot, was keen that he should make it to Kanpur on time so that his VIP, Madhavrao Scindia, was able to deliver his address.

According to a pilot of the flying club in Lucknow, Capt Gupta’s record was not unblemished. He reportedly was grounded for an incident.

Sadly, both the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and the Airports Authority of India (AAI) have shown laxity in respect of all-important flying rules.

DGCA H.S. Khola has been trying to uplift the Flight Inspection Directorate but it has not attained the lofty standards of days when FID’s chief was Air Marshal Denzor Keeler.

The AAI’s performance in the Flight Inspection Unit is equally questionable. Recently, a retired pilot, who is over 60 joined the unit at Rs 1000 a day. Why appoint a retired pilot when there are stream of pilots waiting to be absorbed.

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