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Jindal, Surender Singh die in copter crash
Pilot dies as copter strikes ground and slides during emergency landing in Saharanpur
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

A picture of shock and grief: Kiran Choudhry, wife of Surender Singh, after hearing about her husband’s death in a chopper crash, at her Sunder Nagar residence in New Delhi on Thursday.
A picture of shock and grief: Kiran Choudhry, wife of Surender Singh, after hearing about her husband’s death in a chopper crash, at her Sunder Nagar residence in New Delhi on Thursday. 
— Tribune photo by Rajeev Tyagi

Berkheri Dera (Saharanpur), March 31
Haryana Agriculture Minister Surender Singh (59), son of former Chief Minister Bansi Lal, and noted industrialist and Power Minister Om Prakash Jindal (75) died in a chopper crash during an emergency landing here this afternoon in Saharanpur district of Uttar Pradesh. The chopper’s pilot Captain T.S. Chauhan also died in the crash.

Mr Ved Prakash Goyal, a relative of the Jindals and head constable Vinod Kumar, who were also on board, were seriously injured in the crash.

The pilot died on way to hospital while the two injured were rushed to the district hospital in Saharanpur. Goyal was later referred to the PGI, Chandigarh. The bodies of Surender Singh and O.P. Jindal 75 had been taken to the district civil hospital in Saharanpur.

District Magistrate Umadhar Dwivedi told The Tribune that preliminary investigations had revealed that the victims were going to Delhi from Chandigarh. However, a brief halt was planned in Gogarpur village, near Jhinjhana in Mujaffarnagar district, about 20 km (air distance) from the site of the crash. It may be mentioned that the Jindals own a sugar mill in this village.

Two eyewitnesses of the crash Nirmal and Raju, both residents of Berkheri Dera, told The Tribune that there was a change in the sound of the chopper engine before it tried for an emergency landing. Nirmal said the pilot of the chopper had in fact saved many lives of the local residents by managing to take the chopper to the fields, otherwise, it would have crashed in a residential area. The chopper first made a nosedive in the air but it again gained some height.

“The efforts for a safe landing away from the residential area continued for about 10 minutes before the engine stopped functioning from about a height of just 10 to 15 metres. The chopper first came down straight slowly but after striking the ground it slided down towards the left side”, said Raju.

The district authorities denied that there was a fire in the chopper before it crashed. However, it was confirmed that the radio link of the chopper with the Sarsawa air base (Saharanpur) was cut-off after the snag developed in its engine.

Both Nirmal and Raju in their early 20s who were feeding their cattle, rushed to the spot and pulled out the survivors. Nirmal Singh, owner of the land where the chopper finally crashed, and his associates immediately brought a few cots and water. Both ministers died on the spot, they said.

The pilot was breathing hard and died in just few minutes even as a vehicle was arranged by the villagers within 20 minutes to take the injured to the civil hospital at Gangoh the sub-divisional headquarters. The pilot, relative of the Jindals and the security person were taken to this hospital for first aid where the doctors declared the pilot brought dead. The two others were immediately rushed to the district hospital at Saharanpur.

A Magisterial inquiry has been initiated into the incident said Mr Dwivedi, DM of Saharanpur. Mr Jindal is survived by his wife, four sons and five daughters while Surender Singh is survived by his wife and a daughter.

Soon after receiving the news, Jindal’s son, member of Parliament from Kurukshetra Naveen Jindal rushed to Saharanpur. Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and AICC General Secretaries Janardhan Dwivedi and Ashok Gehlot also flew into Saharanpur.

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