Kathmandu, February 27

It was around 1:45 pm today when Home Secretary Prem Kumar Rai’s phone rang at a meeting of the Parliamentary State Affairs and Good Governance Committee that had convened to discuss Nepal Citizenship Bill at Singha Durbar.

Rai sought the panel Chair Sashi Shrestha’s permission to entertain the call and left the room. Rai then entered the room after a few minutes with a sad face and sought the panel chair’s permission to speak.

“I just received very sad news. An Air Dynasty helicopter has crashed in Taplejung. Seven people, including Minister of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Rabindra Adhikari, tourism entrepreneur Ang Chhiring Sherpa, Under Secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office Yubraj Dahal were on board the chopper,” he said. “The chopper apparently crashed due to bad weather.”

All of a sudden, there was a terrifying silence in the meeting room. Shrestha then called off the meeting. The news then broke and spread across the country through journalists present at the meeting.

Nepal Communist Party (NCP) lawmaker Bijaya Subba, who represents Tehrathum, said he was also supposed to join the team, but the plan got cancelled at the eleventh hour. He told journalists that the minister had gone to observe the site for a proposed airport at Chuhandada in Tehrathum.

Minister Adhikari and others had left Chuhandanda at around 11.30am after the former assured the locals that the airport would be constructed within three years at the cost of Rs 870 million. “We have been demanding construction of the airport at Chuhandanda, and Minister Adhikari had gone there to observe the proposed site, around 14 miles from the district headquarters of Fidim,” Subba said.

Lawmaker Nabaraj Silwal, who is a former police officer, also enquired about the incident over phone with local police officials and he was told that the locals had heard a huge bang as the chopper crashed into a rocky hill.