Indian media: Questions over defence equipment safety

The Super Hercules is the Indian Air Force's most-advanced transporter plane. Image copyright AFP
Image caption The Super Hercules is the Indian Air Force's most-advanced transporter plane

The crash of the Indian Air Force's (IAF) latest transport plane has renewed concerns over the safety of the country's defence equipment, papers say.

The US-made C-130J Super Hercules plane crashed on Friday, killing its crew of five, near Gwalior in the central state of Madhya Pradesh during a routine flight exercise.

"The crash comes on the back of a series of accidents in the navy - starting with the submarine INS Sindhurakshak explosion in August last year to the INS Sindhuratna mishap in February - that forced navy chief DK Joshi to resign," The Times of India says.

The paper adds that "over the years, the IAF has lost too many servicemen and aircraft to such mishaps. Unless rectified forthwith, the problem poses a serious threat to the country's defence preparedness".

The black box of the jet has been sent to the manufacturing firm, Lockheed Martin, in the US for "decoding", reports say.

"To avoid any loss of data while trying to decode the equipment, we have decided to send the black box to the US," The Hindu quotes an IAF spokesperson as saying.

India had purchased six C-130J Super Hercules aircraft from the US in 2011.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The crashed C-130J aircraft was on a routine training exercise

Meanwhile, in domestic politics, the president of the ruling Congress Party, Sonia Gandhi, and the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi severely criticised each other in separate rallies on Sunday, reports say.

Mrs Gandhi said the BJP spreads the "politics of hatred" and asked the people not to believe their "false promises" at an election rally in the north-eastern state of Assam, The Indian Express reports.

Mr Modi criticised Mrs Gandhi for allowing the former chief minister of Maharashtra, Ashok Chavan, to contest elections despite allegations of corruption against him.

"Sonia Gandhi justifies arguing that Ashok Chavan has not been barred from contesting polls. The fact is Congress and corruption are integral to their politics," the paper quotes Mr Modi as saying during a rally in Maharashtra.

Football to politics

Moving on to other stories, a school in Dehradun town in the northern state of Uttarakhand has allegedly received a threatening letter from a militant group, the Hindustan Times reports.

The letter, allegedly written by [banned militant group] Indian Mujahideen to Welhams Girls School, pledges to "avenge the Gujarat and Muzaffarnagar riots and the atrocities in Indian-administered Kashmir", the paper reports.

Police have started an investigation into the case.

Religious riots in the northern state of Gujarat in 2002 had left scores of Muslims dead, while 49 people were killed in violence in Muzaffarnagar in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh last year.

Elsewhere, the Election Commission hosted a music concert in Delhi on Sunday to raise awareness about the importance of voting, the Hindustan Times reports.

"The Delhi electoral office organised a musical performance by Indie pop band Euphoria to raise awareness among the voters. The concert, titled 'Taal of Democracy' took place at the Central Park in Connaught Place," the paper adds.

And finally, Bhaichung Bhutia, former Indian football captain, has admitted that politics is tougher than sports as he prepares for the upcoming elections as a candidate, The Times of India reports.

During his poll campaign in Darjeeling, Mr Bhutia said politics "is tougher than taking on Nigerian defenders. I've been doing that all my life", the paper reports.

The former Indian team captain is contesting the Lok Sabha (lower house of parliament) polls from Darjeeling constituency in the state of West Bengal.

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