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Activist group claims AAP’s North Karnataka candidate ‘directly responsible’ for Mangalore air crash


By Kaustav Bhattacharya


BANGALORE (April 17)—Mangalore air crash activists are trying to stir up the political terra firma in the state by alleging AAP’s North Karnataka candidate, M.R.Vasudev, was directly responsible for the Mangalore air crash on May 22, 2010, that claimed 158 lives.
Vasudev, the former director of Mangalore Airport, is contesting the Lok Sabha elections on an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) ticket.

This accusation has been made by the 812 Foundation. The trust, named after Air India Express Flight 812, was created to aid the relatives of the victims of the Mangalore air crash. The foundation has sued Vasudeva, claiming his negligence led to the crash. It filed a case at a magistrate court in Karnataka in 2010, and the court on Feb. 19, 2013, ordered that Vasudeva should be prosecuted.

Vasudeva applied successfully to the Karnataka High Court for a stay order on the ground that because  the central government is named in the lawsuit its permission is required for him to be prosecuted.

Immediately after the crash, Vasudev illegally listened to the air traffic control (ATC) recordings, the foundation alleges. Aviation laws state ATC records need to be sealed immediately after an accident.

But Vasudev told The SoftCopy: “I was not even the airport director when the air crash happened. Because I am contesting the elections for AAP, these people are throwing mud on me.”

Yeshwant Shenoy, the president of 812 Foundation said Vasudeva lied to The SoftCopy about not being the airport director when the crash happened, citing a document dated 2006, which appears to have Vasudeva’s signature on it as the airport director.

The 812 Foundation says Vasudev made false accusations about the pilots and blamed them for the crash.

The foundation claims the instrument landing system (ILS) structure at the end of the runway was mounted on an illegal structure. According to them, what killed the people was not the crash, but the lack of access fire trucks had to the accident site.

“The ILS was mounted on a two-story building which caused the crash (when the plane’s starboard wing collided with the concrete socket of the ILS localiser antenna). Even the building was illegally constructed,” Yeshwant Shenoy, the president of 812 Foundation said. “After the crash, they bulldozed that building and buried that deep down to cover up their crime.”

Vasudev never conducted a fire drill in the airport as per the rules, the foundation says.
When the air crash happened, firemen at the airport realized that their vehicles could not reach the accident site.

“The people could have been saved had it been for proper fire vehicles, but the people got burned alive because of Vasudev’s negligence and absolute disrespect of the law. I have absolutely no doubts that M.R. Vasudeva is responsible for the air crash,” said Shenoy. “If AAP is trying to portray its image as a political party who are against corruption, how can they field a candidate like that?”

“So many safety norms were violated when the airport was being constructed under the jurisdiction of Vasudeva,” Peter Arthur, a construction engineer and activist, said. “The fire took at least 15 minutes to flame up. If there had been fire exit roads, at least 100 people could have been saved.”

He alleged negligence on Vasudeva’s part for not constructing fire exit roads in the airport.


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