Was there a conspiracy behind Andhra CM's death? Over to CBI

New Delhi, September 08: The Andhra Pradesh government has approved a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the helicopter crash that killed

Andhra Pradesh chief minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy and four others.

"We are yet to receive a central notification in this regard. But the probe, if and when the CBI takes over, will primarily focus on three possible angles --

Maoists' role, sabotage attempt and criminal conspiracy," a senior CBI officer said.

YSR, his special secretary, chief security officer and two pilots were killed on their way to Chittoor district from Hyderabad on Wednesday. The mangled remains of the chopper and the charred bodies were found inside Nallamalla forest the next day following one of the biggest search operations by the Air Force.

The state government has reportedly spoken to the Centre about a CBI probe and the latter has agreed. YSR's successor K Rosaiah also spoke to Union home minister P Chidambaram over the phone in this regard.

State home minister Sabita Indra Reddy said on Monday, "The state government has also sent a letter to the Centre recommending a CBI probe. There are doubts in the minds of the people of the state about the crash. The government has therefore decided to conduct a thorough inquiry and place all the facts before the people".

A CBI official said a team of the investigating agency will visit the crash site. "The crash site and surrounding areas can throw up vital forensic evidence, including traces of ammunition," a senior CBI official said.

Investigators will draw a list of people who knew about YSR's itinerary and question them. They will also question maintenance engineers of the Bell chopper to ensure that there was no sabotage. "We will also seek details of the two cell phones which reportedly rang after the chopper disappeared. The probe will focus on minute details/incidents before and after the crash," the official said.

Considering public sentiments, a number of high-level probes are already underway. Apart from the Andhra Pradesh criminal investigation department investigation, the state government has also ordered a probe by a two-member expert committee comprising retired IPS officer MR Reddy and former director general civil aviation HS Kola. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation is conducting a separate probe.

"The ambit of the probes will be wide. There are several doubts like whether YSR should have flown in such weather, whether the helicopter had a no objection certificate and whether it was checked properly by the officials concerned,"the home minister said.



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