PM's security breached; copter pilot, co-pilot held

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Bilaspur, Dec 17 (UNI) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's security was breached by an Air Deccan helicopter here today.

The chopper landed at the helipad at Lohnu, near here, where Dr Singh's helicopter was waiting to fly him to Palampur for another public meeting in the run-up to the second and final phase of the Himachal Pradesh assembly elections.

The security forces allowed the helicopter to land and surrounded it.

On enquiry, it was found that the pilot did not have permission of the Air Traffic Control (ATC) or the district administration to land there.

The two pilots identified as Col M S Sehgal and co-pilot K C Mehta, both former army pilots and now working with Air Deccan, were arrested for breaching the PM's security cordon but later released on bail.

A case under section 336 of the IPC and section 11 of the Aircraft Act, 1934, has, however, been registered against them, Bilaspur district SP Balbir Thakur told UNI here.

The copter had gone to Bilaspur to pick AICC general secretary R K Dhawan but it landed at the crucial time when Dr Singh was about to fly.

Airport authorities confirmed that the state government had passed Mr Dhawan's flight plan.

Security agencies confirmed that Bilaspur Air Traffic Controller has been held responsible for the security breach. The helipad officer informed the police that he had no information about landing of the private chopper.

No helicopter could be allowed to land at the helipad where the PM's helicopter was waiting.

Civil Aviation Ministry sources said there was no threat to the Prime Minister's safety. It was a security breach, which is being probed, the sources added.


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