NEW DELHI: The Congress has demanded a thorough probe into the incident involving a technical snag in the aircraft carrying party chief Rahul Gandhi from the national capital to poll-bound Karnataka yesterday.
Congress’s communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala described the incident — the failure of the auto-pilot mode in the aircraft — as “horrific” and “serious” and demanded a probe to find out if there was any “foul play”.
He said a complaint was submitted to the director general of police (DGP), Karnataka, urging him to look into all aspects of the “serious, horrific incident”, including foul play, if any.
He added that an aircraft carrying a Special Protection Group (SPG) protectee developing such a snag was unprecedented.
During the incident, the Congress chief had maintained his composure and even tried to calm the co-passengers down, Surjewala said.
Another complaint was filed with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), demanding a thorough inquiry into the incident, he added.
“The operator has reported the incident to us. According to the report, it was a snag in the auto-pilot mode. The pilot shifted to the manual (mode) and (the aircraft) landed safely,” a senior DGCA official said.
“Shutdown of the auto-pilot (mode) is not uncommon. For a VIP flight, the DGCA examines it thoroughly. We shall do that in this case as well,” the official told PTI.
The Congress has demanded a probe into the “suspicious and faulty performance” of the aircraft before it landed at the Hubballi airport in north Karnataka.
The DGCA said it would look into the issue, while the police said they had registered a complaint in this regard.
The plane had suddenly tilted heavily on the left side and the altitude had dipped steeply with a violent shuddering of the aircraft at 10.45 am, Kaushal Vidyarthi, a close aide of Gandhi, told Karnataka DGP Neelmani N Raju in a letter.