NEW DELHI: External affairs minister SM Krishna on Wednesday condoled the sad demise of Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Dorjee Khandu, who has been killed in a chopper crash in Lobothong near Tawang District.
In a statement, Krishna said: “I am deeply pained to receive confirmation of the tragic and untimely demise of a great son of India and the chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh Dorjee Khandu.”
“He was dedicated to the cause of improving the quality of lives of the people of the Indian State of Arunachal Pradesh,” he added.
He further said: “In his (Khandu) death, the state and country has lost a visionary administrator and an excellent human being. I would like to convey my heartfelt condolences to members of his family and friends.
The missing Pawan Hans AS350 B-3 helicopter that took off from Tawang at 9.50 am on Saturday lost communication with the ground after it flew past the Sela Pass along the Chinese border about 20 to 25 minutes later. The helicopter was scheduled to land in Itanagar at 11.30 am on Saturday.
On Saturday, several media reports quoted Arunachal Pradesh governor general (retired) J J Singh and chief secretary Bam as saying that the helicopter had landed safely somewhere in Eastern Bhutan adjoining Tawang district and that the same helicopter was flying back to Guwahati with the chief minister on board.
Bhutan, however, later denied that any Indian helicopter had landed in its territory, but said a search operation was launched following a request from New Delhi.
Apart from Khandu, the people on board included crew members Captain J S Babbar and Captain K S Malick, Khandu’s security officer Yeshi Choddak and Yeshi Lamu, sister of Tawang legislator Tsewang Dhondup.