Modi’s chopper flies back after emergency blessing

ECONOMYNEXT – An Indian helicopter that broke down during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Sri Lanka returned home on Tuesday after replacing some vital engine parts and a blessing from the Temple of the Tooth, official sources said.

The Ukranian-built Mi-17 helicopter was grounded at Asgiriya in the district of Kandy since Friday and was repaired with spare parts flown in from India, sources said, adding that the return journey was not without drama.

On the first attempt after the repair, the transport aircraft in the VVIP squadron could not take off and local officials then asked the Indians to offer a “pooja” and seek the blessings of the Temple of the Tooth.

“They told us that they had already sought blessing from the temple the night before,” an official at Asgiriya said. “Then, the helicopter came to life on the second attempt and after they left, we did not hear from them. That is goods news. They have reached their destination safely.”

Locals in Kandy speculated that the aircraft got into trouble in the first place because they had violated the prohibited air space over the temple during their rehearsals ahead of Modi’s visit.

There was no official word on whether the Indians had indeed violated the no fly zone over the most sacred Buddhist shrine in the island, but officials said although residents saw the choppers in Kandy skies, it was unlikely they broke any  rules.

Despite the breakdown of the Mi-17 aircraft, Modi’s visit went ahead smoothly, and he returned to the Katunayake airport in a different helicopter to board the special Air India Boeing 747 back to New Delhi.

Authorities also removed wasp nests at two locations where Modi’s helicopters landed in Dikoya fearing that the rotors could stir up wasps and trigger an attack.
(COLOMBO, May 16, 2017)

Tags :