Govt announces reward for information on missing An-32 in Arunachal

Aim is to encourage locals to take a risk for the cause of IAF personnel, say officials

The Siang district administration in Arunachal Pradesh has announced a cash award of ₹50,000 for anyone who can provide any clue or information about the Indian Air Force’s An-32 aircraft that went missing over the State with 13 on board on June 3.

The An-32 had taken off from Jorhat in eastern Assam for Mechuka Advanced Landing Ground about 30 km from the India-China border in Shi-Yomi district. Ground control lost contact with it 35 minutes after take-off.

“It is not easy for people to move through dense jungles during monsoon because of venomous snakes, leeches and toxic insects, such as the dumdum fly. The ₹50,000 [award] is to encourage them to take a risk for the cause of the IAF personnel,” a district official said, declining to be quoted.

The official also said they have engaged local hunters for the search and rescue operations. “No one knows the terrain better than them, and since they take risks to hunt for food, they are more likely to succeed in locating the aircraft than anyone else,” he added.

There have been unconfirmed reports of the armed forces offering a higher cash incentive to locals, besides a job, for locating the aircraft. The Army and the IAF denied the reports.

“Army officials have sought our help in finding the aircraft. We are trying to motivate more able-bodied men to go on hunting of a different kind,” Arun Yabu, a resident of Yapik village in Shi-Yomi district, said. He also said people of neighbouring Pene, Hone, Yapik, Hirgo and Lipo villages are helping out.

The authorities of four districts associated with river Siang – the Arunachal Pradesh part of Tibet’s Yarlung Zangbo, which joins two other rivers to form the Brahmaputra in Assam downstream – had on Thursday formed teams of local people to search for the aircraft.

“The search and rescue operation resumed around noon because of rain and poor light in the morning,” Wing Commander Ratnakar Singh, Shillong-based defence spokesperson, said.

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