DHRUV CRASH UPDATE #7: Indian Embassy Implores HAL To Counter Ecuador Press Reports, HAL Chairman Busy Shutting Down Communications Department

It doesn't get more ironic than this. The HAL team in Ecuador and India's Ambassador to Ecuador, have sent urgent word to HAL Headquarters in Bangalore that there needs to be an urgent and committed effort to engage the press in Ecuador and supply them with information and/or rejoinders regarding the free-for-all and sometimes inaccurate coverage that is sweeping the country's newspapers and television news stations over the October 27 ALH Dhruv crash. But here's the thumping and ironic clincher. Defence Ministry sources have revealed to LiveFist that HAL's full-fledged communications and press relations department in Bangalore, which was set up in 2006 as part of HAL's "opening up" effort, is being shut down. Poof. By the middle of this month, HAL will have no spokesperson, or any public relations staff whatsoever. HAL's fortnightly in-house newspaper Minsk Square Matters which is currently in its 85th issue, which debuted under former chairman Ashok Baweja, will no longer be produced, and nor will the organisation's magazine The Plane. So this explains why HAL has been constrained from issuing any statements about the crash, apart from the vague corporate statement three days after the crash.

A reminder communique sent by the Indian Embassy in Ecuador to its Headquarters in Bangalore today has pointed out that without clearance to release information/rejoinders, they cannot possibly engage the local press (as they are being constantly urged to do by Ambassador Bhojwani). With inquiries pouring in from local journalists to the HAL team in Ecuador for interviews and access to authentic information, and with their hands tied, the press has -- not unreasonably -- drawn the conclusion that HAL has something to hide. A worse situation, as far as perceptions are concerned, cannot be imagined.

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