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Search for YSR narrows down to 20 km radius

By Mohammed Siddique in Hyderabad
Last updated on: September 03, 2009 02:59 IST
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With a Sukhoi fighter aircraft, a special air craft from Indian Space Research Organization and another low flying aircraft of the state government completing a comprehensive aerial survey of Nallamalla forest area to find missing Andhra Pradesh CM Y S Rajashekhara Reddy's helicopter on Wednesday night and gathering crucial data including the photographs, focus of the search operation on Thursday will move to the ground.

The state financé minister K Rosaiah and the Chief Secretary Ramakant Reddy told mediapersons late on Wednesday night that about 2000 personnel from different forces including the anti-Maoist Greyhound commandos and anti-terrorist Octopus commandos were already in place in Kurnool district.

The Central government was also rushing five battalion of the Central Reserve Police Force to the affected areas of Kurnool district.

More ground reinforcements were coming from all the neighbouring districts of Chittoor, Kadapa, Anantapur, Prakasham and Nellore and as well as Tamil Nadu to Kurnool district. "The search operation is now focussed on a 20 km radius near Atmakur in Kurnool district," Rosaiah said.

"We expect the aerial search operation involving five helicopters and two aircrafts to begin 6 and 0630 am tomorrow," Ramakant Reddy said.

He said that the local people had sighted a low flying helicopter between Atamakur and Bandi Atmakur in Kurnool district at around 9 am.

The search operations will be coordinated by the command and control centre setup at Anantapur. Two senior state ministers Botsa Satyanarayana and N Raqghuveera Reddy were camping at Atmakur and Kurnool to coordinate all the state departments and agencies.

The officials hoped that situation will become clear with in a few hours on Thursday.

Sonia likely to visit Hyderabad

Meanwhile, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi was also likely to visit Hyderabad on Thursday. According to the sources, she will meet YSR's wife and other family members in a bid to boost their morale and give them the courage in a difficult hour.

The state finance minister K Rosaiah said that the state government did not have any confirmed reports of Sonia Gandhi's visit.

The concern of Congress high command over the sudden turn of events was understandable, as YS Rajasekhara Reddy had turned the state in to the strongest fortress of the Congress party.

His big role in helping the Congress returning to power at the Center for a second term in this year's election as well as his leadership in leading Congress to power for second term in Andhra Pradesh, had come for praise and appreciation both from Sonia Gandhi and the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Congress party had won 33 Lok Sabha seats in the state, strengthening the position of Rajasekhara Reddy and enhancing his stature in Congress party at the national level. 

Veerappa Moily, Prithviraj Chavan arrive

Meanwhile, Union law minister Veerappa Moily, who is also the All India Congress Committee general secretary in-charge of Andhra Pradesh affairs, and the minister of state in prime minister's office Prithviraj Chouhan landed in Hyderabad late on Wednesday night to monitor the situation. From the Rajiv Gandhi international airport they drove straight to the secretariat, which has become the command center for the search operations.

The ministers held talks with the state finance minister K Rosaiah, YSR's friend and advisor KVP Ramachandra Rao and others.

Their arrival came after a flurry of activity and phone calls between Delhi and Hyderabad. In a reflection of the importance YS Rajasekhara Reddy commands in the eyes of the central leadership of Congress party, the Congress President Sonia Gandhi was personally monitoring the search operation. She, as well as Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, spoke to the family members of YSR over phone.

The Chief Ministers and governors of several states and senior leaders from all over the country made telephone calls to inquire about the Chief Minister's safety. They include the Chief Ministers of Maharashtra Ashok Chavan, Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot, several Union ministers and leaders of different parties.

The President of India Pratibha Patil, who was in Moscow, also made a phone call to ask about YSR's well being.

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Mohammed Siddique in Hyderabad