Syed Hasan Waheed

New Delhi.  Y S Rajshekhara Reddy the chief minister of the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh with four others was killed last morning in a helicopter crash near Kurnool a small town in the southern state.

After a long search about 24-hours the charred bodies and wreckage of the Bell 430 helicopter were located at 8:30 am local time today near Kurnool on a hillock. The copter went missing at about 9:13 am yesterday while carrying Rajshekhar Reddy to Chittoor.

The chopper took-off from Hyderabad for Chittoor district in southern Andhra Pradesh with four more persons including Rajshekhara Reddy’s chief secretary P
Subramaniam and chief security officer A S C Wesley, the chopper
piloted by Group Capt S K Bhatia and Capt M S Reddy,
hit a small hill due to bad weather and poor sight.

Previously it was suspected of being hit by Naxalites of Andhra Pradesh having vast potential and capability of such actions and Indian Home Minister P Chidambram did not completely rule out the possibility of Naxal attack and said: “It is not possible to say why the helicopter crashed.”

According to Chidambaram, preliminary investigations showed that the helicopter, which was heading south, had changed direction and hit a small hill, east of Kurnool.

The Nallamalla forest area where it vanished and lost contact with Chennai Air Traffic Control (ATC), is a stronghold of Maoist rebels (Naxalites) in Andhra Pradesh.

Last night, after the chopper lost its contact, several security agencies launched an all-out search for the wreckage after one of the Sukhoi fighter planes took unclear pictures of the possible crash site.

Rajashekhara Reddy was born in a Christian family at Pulivendula constituency of Kadapa District, Andhra Pradesh to Y S Raja and Jayamma Reddy on July 8, 1949. He graduated with a degree in medical science from Gulbarga University, Karnataka and completed his House Surgeonship at S.V. Medical College, Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh. He was the elected leader of the House Surgeon’s Association at S.V. Medical College, Tirupati.

Rajshekhara Reddy started his political career from his student life while studying medicine and became Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) of Andhra Pradesh at the age of 29 and never lost his election as a contestant.

He took command of Congress Party in Kadapa District which was badly ridden with factional violence and bloodshed.

Reddy led Indian Congress Party to its historical win after the decades of rule by regional Telugu Desam Party founded by the late film actor N T Rama Rao which was led by his rebel son-in-law as party leader for several years. Rajshekhara Reddy’s sweeping victory brought down the decades old draconian and capitalism inclined Telugu Desam Party to its feet.

Meanwhile the charred bodies of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Rajashekhara Reddy and four others were brought to Kurnool from the accident spot for post-mortem and were supposed to be handed over to their families.

Rajshekhara Reddy’s body would be kept at Lal Bahadur Stadium for the public to pay their last respects and later it would be flown to his native place Pulivendula for last rites.

Several Congress Party leaders and even the opposition party Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) leaders including Venkaiah Naidu and Advani have expressed shock at his sudden demise and conveyed condolences to Reddy’s family.

Congress Party chief Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul Gandhi and Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh are to visit Hyderabad for his last rites and meet the family members of Rajshekhara Reddy.

The neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu announced one-day mourning, Congress Party and BJP offices flags were put on half mast for mourning. Andhra Pradesh state government has announced one-week mourning for Reddy and his entourage’s death.


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