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     Raipur, January 19, 2013: In a controversial decision, the crew members of the Indian Air Force helicopter deserted an injured police man and took shelter in a police station in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh after their flying machine was damaged yesterday by Maoists.

     When the IAF helicopter was trying land near Timilwada for casualty evacuation, Maoists opened rapid fire from the village side partially damaging the flying machine about 525 Km from Raipur, police sources said today.

     In that incident wireless operation of the state police M L Sahu received bullet injuries, they said. Sahu was among the seven crew members of the IAF helicopter.

     Leaving behind Sahu and the damaged helicopter, its rest six crew members, including Pilot Sumanta T S Singh, Co-Pilot S P Rohit Kumar, Engineer J S Mehlawat, Assistant Engineer Manoj Kumar and Gunmen B S Choudhury and J S Thapa took shelter in Chintagupha police station, the sources said.

     Commondos from the elite COBRA forces and CRPF battalion subsequently reached the site, where the helicopter was forced landed and secured the flying machine and shifted the injured wireless operator to the Chintagupha police station, they added.

     After the forced landing, local villagers had helped the crew members of the helicopter to reach safe in the near by police post, Police said and thanked the villagers for their help.

     Official sources said technical staff from IAF would reach the site today to make the helicopter flyable after repair.

     On April 21, last year Sukma District Collector Alex V F Paul Menon V was abducted by the Maoists from Majhipara and after a negotiation for 13 days, he was released unharmed, although at the time of his abduction both of his armed body guards were killed.

     Maoists on November 14, 2008 had shot dead an IAF flight engineer Sergeant Mustafa Ali from the ground firing when an Indian Air Force helicopter was taking off from Pidiya helipad in Bijapur district in the same south region of Chhattisgarh after collecting electronic voting machines for the 2008 Chhattisgarh Assembly Election.

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