Insult after chopper injury

New Delhi, Jan. 18: An Indian Air Force helicopter was hit in firing by suspected Maoists as it was landing to evacuate casualties in an encounter between police and the rebels in Chhattisgarh today.

A state police wireless operator who was in the helicopter was injured. An intelligence source said the aircrew had abandoned the chopper with the police wireless operator in it and left.

A CoBRA (commando) team of the CRPF later reached the site and secured the helicopter and found the wireless operator with a bullet injury in his leg.

Sources said the state police as well as the CRPF were upset that the aircrew left the injured wireless operator behind. It is not clear why the aircrew did so.

The Union home secretary has announced a reward of Rs 5 lakh for the CoBRA team for rescuing the injured person and securing the chopper.

The four-member crew of the helicopter was reported to be safe at Chinta Gufa police station in South Chhattisgarh's Dantewada, about a 4km trek from the encounter site in Timilwada.

The IAF is mandated to open fire if it is fired at by the Maoists. But the Mi-17 1V helicopter, that can be armed with a medium machine gun and rockets, was not used as a gunship, air force sources said. Use of military firepower will mark a serious escalation in counter-Maoist operations.

"The helicopter was hit twice as it was about to land. It was about to lose control but the crew managed to manoeuvre and land successfully in a field," an IAF spokesperson said.

A policeman was killed and two others were injured in the encounter between the Chhattisgarh armed police and the insurgents.

The helicopter could not complete its mission. It had a hydraulic systems failure, a generator failure and a fuel leak.

State police sources said the chopper landed about a kilometre away from its designated spot. It was hit twice by bullets and had a hard landing but was said to be flight-worthy. The helicopter had gone off the radar for some time. It was said to have landed in Timilwada around 4.40pm.

Timilwada is a recently built police post in the Chinta Gufa police station area. State troopers had objected to the poor infrastructure and lack of security in the post.

The helicopter took off from Jagdalpur after 4pm ' too late in the day for a flying machine without night-vision devices ' in response to an emergency call to evacuate casualties.

The Mi-17 1V helicopters deployed by the IAF for counter-Maoist operations are being replaced by Mi-17 V5 helicopters imported from Russia last year that are capable of flying at night.

On December 21, 2011, Maoists had fired at and damaged a similar helicopter not far from the site of today's encounter. Then, too, the IAF was evacuating state and central police troopers after an encounter. The crew of that helicopter was given gallantry awards.

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Time for Chennai to enter familiar cocoon

Time for Chennai to enter familiar cocoon

Chennai have an emphatic 8-3 lead in the head-to-head with Punjab, with one game tied More »

Evenly matched Rajasthan and Hyderabad face-off

Evenly matched Rajasthan and Hyderabad face-off

A quality that defines Rajasthan and Hyderabad is consistency. Rajasthan was one among two teams to enjoy complete dominance at home last season. Hyderabad… More »

Beleaguered Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Beleaguered Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Yuvraj Singh was hardly convincing to begin with against Delhi, but a big dose of crowd support and a helping of poor bowling meant he had the opportunity… More »

Fiery star Stokes bids to curb his temper

Fiery star Stokes bids to curb his temper

England all-rounder Ben Stokes admits he must keep his anger under control if he is to end his international exile. More »

Troubled Trott to take another break

Troubled Trott to take another break

Jonathan pulled out of England's tour to Australia Brisbane with a 'stress-related illness'. More »

Bangalore's arsenal blazes to victory

Bangalore's arsenal blazes to victory

Yuvraj Singh was back to his best in his first match for Royal Challengers Bangalore. More »

Pakistan cricketers face probe

Pakistan cricketers face probe

Pakistani cricket authorities have launched an investigation after a number of current international stars played in exhibition matches in the United States… More »

BCCI to meet before next court hearing

BCCI to meet before next court hearing

The BCCI will hold an emergent working committee meeting on April 20 to discuss the future course of action with regard to the Supreme Court hearing concerning… More »

Gavaskar wants a clean IPL

Gavaskar wants a clean IPL

"Integrity is non-negotiable..." says the BCCI's interim chief ahead of Season 7 of the tainted league. More »

'Yak' Kallis still on top of his game

'Yak' Kallis still on top of his game

The 38-year-old South African veteran turned it on for Kolkata Knight RIders in the opening match of IPL-7. More »

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

The court emphasised that the tainted administrator can no longer work for the BCCI. More »

Kallis, Narine star in KKR win

Kallis, Narine star in KKR win

An all-round display saw Knight Riders thump Mumbai Indians by 41 runs in the IPL-7 opener. More »

Yuvraj happy to play for RCB: Kohli

Yuvraj happy to play for RCB: Kohli

New-look RCB will play their first game of IPL-7 on Thursday. More »

IPL: News Line

IPL: News Line

A round-up of all the news from this season of the IPL. More »

Shane Watson issues moral warning

Shane Watson issues moral warning

'Everyone knows what is right and what is wrong and if you do the wrong thing it will be found out' More »

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Welcome to another season of a league that many watch but few trust. More »

Johnson may quit T20s for Tests

Johnson may quit T20s for Tests

Australia's Mitchell Johnson may quit limited-overs cricket to prolong his test career with an eye on the 2015 Ashes series in England, the fast bowler… More »

There's a lot going on: Fleming

There's a lot going on: Fleming

He experienced anxious moments in the lead-up to the tournament as the courts decided on whether to suspend the franchise, he said, but stressed that the… More »

Nepal players call off boycott

Nepal players call off boycott

Thaw in relations after formation of an advisory committee that would work in tandem with the Cricket Association of Nepal. More »

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Former Pakistan cricket captain Rashid Latif said Tuesday he turned down the job of national chief selector because he could not work with ex-players tainted… More »

We are not over-confident: Bailey

We are not over-confident: Bailey

Indian Premier League — George Bailey-led Kings XI Punjab will face Chennai Super Kings on Friday. More »

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Their main concern, once again, is the fast bowling More »

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

MoU between BCCI & its units to avoid double taxation delayed after a few decline to share details. More »

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

New Zealand selectors included two new caps in a 15-man Test squad named Tuesday to tour the West Indies, with injury-hit spinner Dan Vettori's future… More »