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Mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 – Did the Aircraft Fly Towards Palau Langkawi


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370  (Source: CNN)
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 (Source: CNN)

From the day the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared many theories such as hijacking, disintegration in midair, missile attack, and so on, are being elucidated by pundits and amateurs for the possible disappearance of the flight that took off on Saturday, March 8, 2014, at 00:41 MST from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport with 239 people, including 12 crew members.

The location of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 last seen on Air Traffic Control (ATC) radar at 02:40 MST (March 7, 18:40 UTC) was at 6°55′15″N 103°34′43″E. After that the aircraft ceased all communications. The aircraft’s transponder in the cockpit was switched off just before the plane passed from Malaysian to the Ho Chi Minh Area air traffic control space – the optimum moment, when the aircraft was not controlled by air traffic controllers in Malaysia or Vietnam. Later, authorities in Thailand and China informed their Malaysian counterparts that the aircraft had not entered their airspace.

On Saturday, March 15, 2014, a week after Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak told reporters:

“Based on new satellite information, we can say with a high degree of certainty that the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) was disabled just before the aircraft reached the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Shortly afterwards, near the border between Malaysian and Vietnamese air traffic control, the aircraft’s transponder was switched off.”

The Prime Minister further said:

 “Despite media reports that the plane was hijacked, I wish to be very clear: we are still investigating all possibilities as to what caused MH370 to deviate from its original flight path.”

Chris Goodfellow
Chris Goodfellow

Chris Goodfellow, a Canadian with 20 years experience as a Class-1 instrumented-rated pilot for multi-engine does not speculate on terrorism, hijack, meteors, etc. He tries to look for a more simple explanation of this incident through his post “MH370  A different point of view. Pulau Langkawi 13,000 runway” on Google+.

When he heard reports that Malaysian military radar tracked the aircraft on a southwesterly course back across the Malay Peninsula into the straits of Malacca, he instantly brought up Google Earth and searched for airports in proximity to the track towards southwest.

Goodfellow suggests that the chief pilot was confronted by some major event on-board that made him turn back right away to the closest safe airport. It was probably a serious event and the crew in the cockpit must have been occupied trying to fight the fire and controlling the aircraft. For Goodfellw, the loss of transponders and communication makes perfect sense in the case of a fire and electrical short-circuit caused by the fire because the first reaction is to pull all the main busses and restore circuits, one by one, until the bad one is isolated and the aircraft would have gone silent. Aviate, Navigate and lastly communicate would be the modus operandi of a seasoned pilot.

Flight of MH370 to Langkawi

Chris Goodfellow says:

The left turn is the key here. This was a very experienced senior Captain with 18,000 hours. Maybe some of the younger pilots interviewed on CNN didn’t pick up on this left turn. We old pilots were always drilled to always know the closest airport of safe harbor while in cruise. Airports behind us, airports abeam us and airports ahead of us. Always in our head. Always. Because if something happens you don’t want to be thinking what are you going to do – you already know what you are going to do. Instinctively when I saw that left turn with a direct heading I knew he was heading for an airport. Actually he was taking a direct route to Palau Langkawi a 13,000 foot strip with an approach over water at night with no obstacles. He did not turn back to Kuala Lampur because he knew he had 8,000 foot ridges to cross. He knew the terrain was friendlier towards Langkawi and also a shorter distance.

What I think happened is that they were overcome by smoke and the plane just continued on the heading probably on George (autopilot) until either fuel exhaustion or fire destroyed the control surfaces and it crashed. I said four days ago you will find it along that route – looking elsewhere was pointless.

This pilot, as I say, was a hero struggling with an impossible situation trying to get that plane to Langkawi. No doubt in my mind. That’s the reason for the turn and direct route. A hijack would not have made that deliberate left turn with a direct heading for Langkawi. It would probably have weaved around a bit until the hijackers decided on where they were taking it.

Surprisingly none of the reporters , officials, other pilots interviewed have looked at this from the pilot’s viewpoint. If something went wrong where would he go? Thanks to Google earth I spotted Langkawi in about 30 seconds, zoomed in and saw how long the runway was and I just instinctively knew this pilot knew this airport. He had probably flown there many times. I guess we will eventually find out when you help me spread this theory on the net and some reporters finally take a look on Google earth and put 2 and 2 together.

The Langkawi International Airport (Source: philly.com)
The Langkawi International Airport (Source: philly.com)

The Langkawi International Airport is one of seven international airports in Malaysia and connects the island to Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Penang and Subang.

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Mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 – If Hijacked, Where Did It Go?


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.Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

On Saturday, March 15, 2014, a week after Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak told reporters:

“Based on new satellite information, we can say with a high degree of certainty that the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) was disabled just before the aircraft reached the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Shortly afterwards, near the border between Malaysian and Vietnamese air traffic control, the aircraft’s transponder was switched off.”

This statement implies the Aircraft has been hijacked. It has raised questions about the person or people with deep experience at the controls in the cockpit of the aircraft when it disappeared.

Now, the investigators have started scrutinizing the background of the crew and passengers on board the aircraft more fervently. They are trying to find whether anyone on board other than Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah (53) and First Officer Fariq Abdul Hamid (27) had training in aircraft navigation and deliberately or under coercion diverted the plane from its scheduled route after communication was lost.

Security on cockpit doors has been reinforced on all passenger aircraft after the terrorist attacks of September 11 in New York. Hence, forced entry into the cockpit would not be possible and the pilots would have had enough time to send a warning signal to the ground air traffic controllers.

The aircraft’s transponder in the cockpit was switched off just before the plane passed from Malaysian to the Ho Chi Minh Area air traffic control space – the optimum moment, when the aircraft was not controlled by air traffic controllers in Malaysia or Vietnam. Later, authorities in Thailand and China informed their Malaysian counterparts that the aircraft had not entered their airspace.

Controls in the cockpit of a Boeing 777-200ER (Source: flyawaysimulation.com)
Controls in the cockpit of a Boeing 777-200ER (Source: flyawaysimulation.com)

The Boeing 777-200ER is a large aircraft and relatively new. So, someone who has flown smaller passenger planes, or even smaller Boeings, could not have shut down the aircraft’s communications. The timing of turning off the transponder could be done only by someone who knew this aircraft well, knew the route, and knew how to avoid air traffic control without attracting attention. This certainly points to the involvement of the pilot, the first mate or one or more crew members, willing or unwilling.

On Thursday, March 13, 2014, a US official said during his brief on the search that Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 sent signals to a satellite orbiting 22,250 miles over the middle of the Indian Ocean for four hours after the aircraft went missing. This indicates the missing aircraft was still flying for hundreds of miles or more after it was last contacted by ground controllers.

This map released by Malaysian officials shows two red lines representing the possible locations from which Flight 370 sent its last hourly transmission to a satellite at 8:11 a.m. on March 8, more than seven hours after it took off from Kuala Lumpur's airport, and when the plane would most likely have been running low on fuel. Credit Office of the Prime Minister of Malaysia.
Satellite contact map released by Malaysian officials shows two red lines representing the possible locations from which Flight 370 sent its last hourly transmissions. (Credit Office of the Prime Minister of Malaysia)

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Satellite contact map by SERGIO PEÇANHA, ARCHIE TSE and TIM WALLACE (Source: Malaysian government)
Satellite contact map by SERGIO PEÇANHA, ARCHIE TSE and TIM WALLACE (Source: Malaysian government)

The above two maps released by officials of the Malaysian government and posted in The New York Times show the signals from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 came from somewhere along one of the two arcs shows in red. The northern arc runs from the southern border of Kazakhstan in central Asia to northern Thailand and the southern arc runs from a location near Jakarta to the Indian Ocean, roughly 1,000 miles off the west coast of Australia.

The land area the northern arc passes through encompasses portentous arenas of insurgency and highly militarized zones from Kazakhstan in central Asia to northern Thailand. The beginning of the arc lies close to northern Iran. It then passes through Afghanistan, northern Pakistan, northern India, the Himalayas and Myanmar.

If  Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370  had flown on that arc, it would have to pass through air defense networks in India and Pakistan, whose mutual long border is heavily militarized, as well as Afghanistan, where the United States and other NATO countries have operational air bases for more than a decade.

If hijacked, where did the airplane go? Did it land on firm terrain or crash into the deep Indian Ocean?

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Mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 – Was the Aircraft Hijacked?


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.Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

Theories such as hijacking, disintegration in midair, missile attack, and so on, are being expounded by pundits and amateurs for the plausible disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 that took off on Saturday, March 8, 2014, at 00:41 MST from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport with 239 people, including 12 crew members, on a scheduled six-hour flight to Beijing. About two hours later, the aircraft was last seen on Air Traffic Control (ATC) radar at 02:40 MST. After that the aircraft ceased all communications, and the transponder signal was lost.

Was the Aircraft Hijacked?

On Saturday, March 15, 2014, a week after Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak told reporters:

“Based on new satellite information, we can say with a high degree of certainty that the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) was disabled just before the aircraft reached the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Shortly afterwards, near the border between Malaysian and Vietnamese air traffic control, the aircraft’s transponder was switched off.”

The Prime Minister further said:

 “Despite media reports that the plane was hijacked, I wish to be very clear: we are still investigating all possibilities as to what caused MH370 to deviate from its original flight path.”

I have reproduced below the full text of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s statement on the investigation into the missing Malaysia Airlines plane,  as provided by the Prime Minister’s office. I have used the two diagrams  from the very informative article published in the The New York Times titled “Search for Malaysian Jet Becomes Criminal Inquiry” authored by Keith Bradsher and Chris Buckley.

Najib Razak, Prime Minister of Malaysia. (Source: .abc.net.au)
Najib Razak, Prime Minister of Malaysia. (Source: .abc.net.au)

Seven days ago Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared. We realize this is an excruciating time for the families of those on board. No words can describe the pain they must be going through. Our thoughts and our prayers are with them.

I have been appraised of the ongoing search operation round the clock. At the beginning of the operation, I ordered the search area to be broadened; I instructed the Malaysian authorities to share all relevant information freely and transparently with the wider investigation team; and I requested that our friends and allies join the operation. As of today, 14 countries, 43 ships and 58 aircraft are involved in the search. I wish to thank all the governments for their help at such a crucial time.

Since day one, the Malaysian authorities have worked hand-in-hand with our international partners – including neighboring countries, the aviation authorities and a multinational search force – many of whom have been here on the ground since Sunday.

We have shared information in real time with authorities who have the necessary experience to interpret the data. We have been working nonstop to assist the investigation. And we have put our national security second to the search for the missing plane.

It is widely understood that this has been a situation without precedent.

We have conducted search operations over land, in the South China Sea, the Straits of Malacca, the Andaman Sea and the Indian Ocean. At every stage, we acted on the basis of verified information, and we followed every credible lead. Sometimes these leads have led nowhere.

There has been intense speculation. We understand the desperate need for information on behalf of the families and those watching around the world. But we have a responsibility to the investigation and the families to only release information that has been corroborated. And our primary motivation has always been to find the plane.

In the first phase of the search operation, we searched near MH370’s last known position, in the South China Sea. At the same time, it was brought to our attention by the Royal Malaysian Air Force that, based on their primary radar, an aircraft – the identity of which could not be confirmed – made a turn back. The primary radar data showed the aircraft proceeding on a flight path which took it to an area north of the Straits of Malacca.

Given this credible data, which was subsequently corroborated with the relevant international authorities, we expanded the area of search to include the Straits of Malacca and, later, to the Andaman Sea.

Early this morning I was briefed by the investigation team – which includes the F.A.A., N.T.S.B., the A.A.I.B., the Malaysian authorities and the acting minister of transport – on new information that sheds further light on what happened to MH370.

Based on new satellite information, we can say with a high degree of certainty that the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) was disabled just before the aircraft reached the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Shortly afterwards, near the border between Malaysian and Vietnamese air traffic control, the aircraft’s transponder was switched off.

The diagram published by New York Times citing Malaysia’s Department of Civil Aviation (search areas); flightradar24.com (dotted flight path); Malaysia Airlines as sources.
The diagram published by New York Times citing Malaysia’s Department of Civil Aviation (search areas); flightradar24.com (dotted flight path); Malaysia Airlines as sources.

From this point onwards, the Royal Malaysian Air Force primary radar showed that an aircraft which was believed – but not confirmed – to be MH370 did indeed turn back. It then flew in a westerly direction back over Peninsular Malaysia before turning northwest. Up until the point at which it left military primary radar coverage, these movements are consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane.

Today, based on raw satellite data that was obtained from the satellite data service provider, we can confirm that the aircraft shown in the primary radar data was flight MH370. After much forensic work and deliberation, the F.A.A., N.T.S.B., A.A.I.B. and the Malaysian authorities, working separately on the same data, concur.

According to the new data, the last confirmed communication between the plane and the satellite was at 8:11 a.m. Malaysian time on Saturday 8th March. The investigations team is making further calculations which will indicate how far the aircraft may have flown after this last point of contact. This will help us to refine the search.

Due to the type of satellite data, we are unable to confirm the precise location of the plane when it last made contact with the satellite.

This map released by Malaysian officials shows two red lines representing the possible locations from which Flight 370 sent its last hourly transmission to a satellite at 8:11 a.m. on March 8, more than seven hours after it took off from Kuala Lumpur's airport, and when the plane would most likely have been running low on fuel. Credit Office of the Prime Minister of Malaysia.
This map released by Malaysian officials shows two red lines representing the possible locations from which Flight 370 sent its last hourly transmission to a satellite at 8:11 a.m. on March 8, more than seven hours after it took off from Kuala Lumpur’s airport, and when the plane would most likely have been running low on fuel. Credit Office of the Prime Minister of Malaysia.

However, based on this new data, the aviation authorities of Malaysia and their international counterparts have determined that the plane’s last communication with the satellite was in one of two possible corridors: a northern corridor stretching approximately from the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to northern Thailand, or a southern corridor stretching approximately from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean. The investigation team is working to further refine the information.

In view of this latest development the Malaysian authorities have refocused their investigation into the crew and passengers on board. Despite media reports that the plane was hijacked, I wish to be very clear: we are still investigating all possibilities as to what caused MH370 to deviate from its original flight path.

This new satellite information has a significant impact on the nature and scope of the search operation. We are ending our operations in the South China Sea and reassessing the redeployment of our assets. We are working with the relevant countries to request all information relevant to the search, including radar data.

As the two new corridors involve many countries, the relevant foreign embassies have been invited to a briefing on the new information today by the Malaysian Foreign Ministry and the technical experts. I have also instructed the Foreign Ministry to provide a full briefing to foreign governments which had passengers on the plane. This morning, Malaysia Airlines has been informing the families of the passengers and crew of these new developments.

Clearly, the search for MH370 has entered a new phase. Over the last seven days, we have followed every lead and looked into every possibility. For the families and friends of those involved, we hope this new information brings us one step closer to finding the plane.

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Mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 – Did the Aircraft Disappear From Radar?


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.Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

On Saturday, March 8, 2014, the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (MH370) took off from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 00:41 MST, with 239 people, including 12 crew members, on a scheduled six-hour flight to Beijing. About two hours later, the aircraft was last seen on Air Traffic Control (ATC) radar at 02:40 MST. After that the aircraft ceased all communications, and the transponder signal was lost just before tracking was passed off to the Ho Chi Minh Area Control Center in Vietnam. Airline authorities in Thailand and China informed their Malaysian counterparts that the aircraft had not entered their airspace.

From then on Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 has been listed as missing. No one knows about its whereabouts. It has just vanished into thin air.

Theories such as hijacking, disintegration in midair, missile attack, and so on, are being expounded by pundits and amateurs for the plausible disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.

On Thursday, March 13, 2014, a US official said during his brief on the search that Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 sent signals to a satellite for four hours after the aircraft went missing. This was an indication that the missing aircraft was still flying for hundreds of miles or more after it was last contacted by ground controllers.

The Boeing Company offers a satellite service that can receive a data from an aircraft during its flight about its functioning and relay the information to the plane’s home base to help provide information before it lands on whether maintenance work or repairs are needed. Though Malaysia Airlines did not subscribe to that service, their aircraft still had the capability to connect with the satellite and was automatically sending pings to it to establish contact.

“It’s like when your cellphone is off, but it still sends out a little ‘I am here’ message to the cellphone network,” the official said. “That’s how sometimes they can triangulate your position even though you’re not calling because the phone every so often sends out a little bleep. That’s sort of what this thing was doing.”

However, there was no comment from Boeing.

Messages involving a different, more rudimentary data service also were received from the airliner for a short time after the plane’s transponder – a device used to identify the plane to radar – went silent, the official said.

A transponder is a radio transmitting device in the cockpit used to identify the aircraft to the ground radar with a four-digit identifying code known as the squawk code entered by the pilot for each flight. The transponder also helps air traffic controllers on the ground to ascertain the aircraft’s position, its altitude, speed, and direction.

There are codes for different situations: 7500 for a hijacking, 7600 for communications failure, etc.

A switch on the transponder can be moved to “ON” or “SBY” (standby) or “ALT” (altitude). Manually one can also pull the circuit breaker to turn off a transponder.

A transponder would be turned off during a normal flight if another aircraft gets closer while approaching an airport. The Air traffic controllers may then ask the pilots to switch off the transponders or to move the switch to SBY. At times the pilot might turn off the transponder if it sends faulty information. Even if the transponder is switched off the aircraft will still be visible on primary radar unless it gets below the radar’s visible range.

If the plane had disintegrated during flight or had suffered some other catastrophic failure, after the aircraft was last seen on Air Traffic Control (ATC) radar at 02:40, all signals – the pings to the satellite, the data messages and the transponder – would have stopped at the same time.

If the plane did not disintegrate during the flight and the transponders on the aircraft were disabled manually, the ground radar can still track the location of the aircraft using “passive radar systems” also known as “passive coherent location” and “passive covert radar.”

Passive radar systems

Conventional radar systems comprise an assembly of transmitter and receiver, sharing a common antenna to transmit and receive signals. The radar dish or antenna transmits pulses of radio waves or microwaves that bounce off any object in their path. The object echoes a tiny part of the wave’s energy to a dish or antenna that is usually located at the same site as the transmitter. The time taken for the pulse to travel to the object and back allows the distance of the object to be determined.

In a passive radar system, there is no dedicated transmitter. Instead, the receiver uses third-party transmitters in the environment, and measures the time difference of arrival between the signal coming directly from the transmitter and the signal arriving via reflection from the object. This allows the bistatic range of the object to be determined.

The term “bistatic range” refers to the basic measurement of distance calculated by a radar or sonar system with separated transmitter and receiver. The receiver measures separately the time for the arrival of the signal directly from the transmitter and the time for the arrival of the reflection from the target, and then measures the time difference between the two. This data defines an ellipse of constant bistatic range, called an iso-range contour, on which the target lies, with foci centred on the transmitter and receiver.

Illustration of bistatic range by Paul Howland (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Illustration of bistatic range by Paul Howland (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

If the target is at range Rrx from the receiver and range Rtx from the transmitter, and the receiver and transmitter are a distance L apart, then the bistatic range is Rrx+Rtx-L. Motion of the target causes a rate of change of bistatic range, which results in bistatic Doppler shift.

Malaysia Airlines MH370 change of course (Source: fox6now.com)
Malaysia Airlines MH370 change of course (Source: fox6now.com)

On Wednesday, March 12, 2014, the Malaysian military acknowledged that it had recorded radar signals from the location where the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 was last contacted by ground controllers, hypothetically indicating the aircraft might have changed its path from its northeastward course toward Beijing towards the west.

The Military radar detected an unidentified aircraft at several points, apparently headed west across the Malaysian peninsula and out into the Indian Ocean. The last detected point was hundreds of miles to the west of where search and rescue efforts were initially focused.

On Saturday when the aircraft went missing, the military took no immediate action to investigate the unidentified blips, whose path appeared to take the aircraft near the heavily populated island of Penang.

A senior US official told CNN that Malaysian authorities believe they have several “pings” from the airliner’s Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS), transmitted to  the satellites in the four to five hours after the last transponder signal, suggesting the plane flew to the Indian Ocean.

The Military officials then realized the significance of blips on their radar.

If Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 crashed into the vast expanse of the Indian Ocean with depths of more than 23,000 feet (7,000 meters), the task faced by searchers would be indomitable like finding a needle in a haystack.

India joined the multi-national search operations and has stepped up its search deploying three aircraft and three ships in the region around Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

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Mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 – Did the Aircraft Crash into the Sea?


. Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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For the past six days the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (MH370) has not yielded any clue to its whereabouts and remains a puzzle. The pilot did not send any distress signal and his last transmitted message was a pleasantry to Malaysian air traffic controllers, “All right, good night” that did not give any indication that anything was wrong on board.

Location last seen on radar screens.
Location last seen on radar screens.

So far, there have been only wild-goose chase and fruitless leads in the search for Flight MH370. However, the search now continues across a total area of around 35,800 sq. miles (92,600 sq. km) on many fronts – South China Sea, Gulf of Thailand, Strait of Malacca, and even Andman Sea. India joined the multi-national search operations and has stepped up its search deploying three aircraft and three ships in the region around Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

On the night of March 12, 2014, China’s State Administration for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND) published three satellite images of what appear to be three floating objects in the sea. The three objects are 13m × 18m, 14m × 19m, and 24m × 22m respectively. The missing Boeing 777-200ER jet aircraft had a wingspan of 60.9 meters and a length of 63.7 meters. These images were captured by a Chinese satellite on the day after the disappearance of the aircraft. These satellite images have not been verified for their authenticity.

An American military official said that if the Chinese satellite had seen the objects, then U.S. satellites too would have seen them, but did not.

The website news.com.au has quoted Tom Haueter, former aviation director of the US National Transportation Safety Board:

“Any aircraft structure that size would sink. It wouldn’t float like this… I don’t believe it’s the plane. We don’t have enough data to say what happened.”

Location of aircraft last seen on radar screen  and where the Chinese Satellite found three floating objects in the sea.
Location of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 last seen on radar screen and where the Chinese Satellite found three floating objects in the sea.

SASTIND gave coordinates of 6.7°N 105.63E which would place it in the sea about 143 miles (230 km) from where the aircraft was last seen on Malaysian Air Traffic Control (ATC) radar at 6.92°N 103.58°E before it disappeared. This was immediately considered the first major lead in the search for the missing aircraft. However, when Malaysian and Vietnamese aviation authorities flew over the area where the images showed the debris they did not find any trace of the missing aircraft.

Bob Woodruff, an ABC News correspondent, tweeted with a link to an image of an alleged email sent by Michael Jerome McKay, an oil rig worker working off the south coast of Vietnam to his employer stating he saw the crash:

Oil rig worker claims in employer confirmed letter-he saw the plane go down. Vietnamese say they found nothing  @ABCpic.twitter.com/k8y02se9aZ

— Bob Woodruff (@BobWoodruff) March 12, 2014

Image of email from Mike McKay, an oil rig worker, obtained by ABC’s Bob Woodruff (Source: globalsnews.ca)
Image of email from Mike McKay, an oil rig worker, obtained by ABC’s Bob Woodruff (Source: globalsnews.ca)

Mike McKay —–@—–
To: —–@—–

Gentlemen,

I believe I saw the Malaysian Airlines plane come down. The timing is right. I tried to contact the Malaysian and Vietnam officials several days ago. But I do not know if the message has been received.

I am on the oil-rig “Songa Mercur” off Vung Tau

The surface location of the observation is:
Lat 08°22’30.23″ N
Long. 108°47’22.26″ E

I observed (the plane?) burning at high altitude and on a compass bearing of 265° to 275° from our surface location.
It Is very difficult to Judge the distance but I’d say 50-70 km along the compass bearing 260° – 275°.

While I observed the burning (plane) it appeared to be in ONE piece.

The surface sea current at our location is. 2.0-2.3 knots in a direction of 225°-230°. The wind direction has been NE-ENE averaging 15-20 knots.

From when I first saw the burning (plane) until the flames went out (still at high altitude) was 10-15 seconds. There was no lateral movement, so it was either coming toward our location, stationary (falling) or going away from our location.

The general position of the observation was perpendicular / south-west of the normal flight paths (we see the Con-trails every day) and at a lower altitude than the normal flight paths. Or on the compass bearing 265°-275° intersecting the normal flight paths and at normal altitude but further away.

Good luck

Michael Jerome McKay

Location of aircraft last seen on radar screen  and alleged eye witness location of crash
Location of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 last seen on radar screen and alleged eye witness location of crash.

The distance from where the aircraft was last seen on Malaysian Air Traffic Control (ATC) radar at 6.92°N 103.58°E before it disappeared on Saturday, March 8, 2014, and  the coordinate  08°22’30.23″N  108°47’22.26″E as location of the so-called crash given by the oil rig worker, works out to 370 miles (600 km).

In a separate tweet, Woodruff warned that the oil rig worker’s claims are not confirmed and in fact could be a hoax:

The letter from oil rig worker is filled w/details yet could be a hoax. Vietnamese officials are investigating @ABC pic.twitter.com/6MSuNHZedU

— Bob Woodruff (@BobWoodruff) March 12, 2014

Malaysian authorities have acknowledged that they are not sure of the direction the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 was following when it disappeared from their ATC radar screens. The Associated Press reported:

Indonesian air force Col. Umar Fathur said the country had received official information from Malaysian authorities that the plane was above the South China Sea, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Kota Bharu, Malaysia, when it turned back toward the strait and then disappeared. That would place its last confirmed position closer to Malaysia than has previously been publicly disclosed.

Confusion over whether the plane had been spotted flying west has prompted speculation that different arms of the government have different opinions about where the plane is most likely to be, or even that authorities are holding back information.

Vietnam has scaled down its efforts to locate the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 because it waited for Malaysia to clarify the new direction the multi-national search group should follow from now onwards.

Vietnam’s deputy minister of transport Pham Quy Tieu said:

“We informed Malaysia on the day we lost contact with the flight that we noticed the flight turned back west but Malaysia did not respond.”

Aviation authorities in Malaysia said that so far no details on radar data revealed a possible “turn-back” of the aircraft. However, Malaysia’s air force reiterated on Wednesday that it had not ruled out the possibility of the Boeing 777 changing courses.

A statement issued by Air Force chief General Rodzali Daud said:

“For the time being, it would not be appropriate… to issue any official conclusions as to the aircraft’s flight path until a high amount of certainty and verification is achieved.”

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Mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 – The Stolen Passports


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.Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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On Saturday, March 8, 2041, the investigators of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 discovered that two people named on the passenger manifest – Christian Kozel from Austria and Luigi Maraldi from Italy – whose passports had been stolen while vacationing in Thailand were not aboard the plane.

Luigi Maraldi showing his new passport while vacationing in Thailand (Source: abcnews.go.com)
Luigi Maraldi showing his new passport while vacationing in Thailand (Source: abcnews.go.com)

We now have a photograph of Luigi Maraldi showing his new passport taken on March 9, 2014, while vacationing in Thailand.

Mario Balotelli, , Italian football player. (Source: zimbio.com)
Mario Balotelli, Italian football player. (Source: zimbio.com)

Investigators trying to establish the identity of the two people travelling with the stolen passports first concluded that they were Asians. Later, Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, Head of Malaysia’s Civil Aviation Authority said one of them looked like Mario Balotelli, the Italian football player.

Is Mario Balotelli a lookalike of Luigi Maraldi?

Meanwhile, INTERPOL said its investigations showed there could have been other people with “suspect passports” on the airplane. Malaysian authorities concurring with INTERPOL said that up to four people could have boarded the plane using fake documents, and have asked help from the FBI.      

Iranian youth Pouria Nour Mohammad Mehrdad (Source: telegraph.co.uk)
Iranian youth Pouria Nour Mohammad Mehrdad (Source: telegraph.co.uk)

Malaysian police released the photograph of a 19-year-old Iranian named Bouria Nour Mohammad Mehread who boarded the plane with the stolen passport of Christian Kozel. They believe that he was trying to immigrate to Germany seeking asylum and join his mother who has already immigrated to Frankfurt. The teenager’s mother was aware that her son was travelling using fake documents. The officials said that he is “unlikely” to be a terrorist.

Photograph of an unidentified man who boarded the missing plane. (Source : telegraph.co.uk)
Photograph of an unidentified man who boarded the missing plane. (Source : telegraph.co.uk)

The police also released a photograph of an unidentified man who also boarded the missing plane. INTERPOL has now identified this person as Delavar Seyed Mohammadreza, an Iranian aged 29.

INTERPOL said the two men had travelled from Doha, Qatar’s capital, using their Iranian passports. In Kuala Lumpur they had obtained the stolen Austrian and Italian passports and boarded the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

These statements by the Malaysian authorities and INTERPOL supports the account given to the BBC by a young Iranian in Kuala Lumpur. This person, a school friend of one of these two men said that his friend and the other Iranian stayed with him before taking the Malaysia Airlines flight, hoping to settle in Europe.

Reports from Thailand said that an Iranian middleman had bought the tickets for the two men through a travel agency in Pattaya, Thailand.

Grand Horizon Travel Agency in Pattaya, Thailand (Source: nbcnews.com)
Grand Horizon Travel Agency in Pattaya, Thailand. (Source: nbcnews.com)

Benjaporn Krutnait, owner of Grand Horizon Travel Agency in Pattaya, Thailand, admitted to the FBI that on March 1, 2014, an Iranian whom she knew only as “Mr. Ali” asked her to book two tickets on an inexpensive flight to Europe.

She said that she initially booked them on two separate flights – one on Qatar Airways and another on Etihad airline. However, the tickets expired before she heard again from Mr. Ali on Thursday, March 6, 2014.

She then made the booking for the two men on  Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (MH370) since Mr. Alid did not specify any particular flight. When a friend of the Iranian paid in cash, she arranged with Six Stars Travel, a larger travel agency, to issue the tickets.

Benjaporn said that she had known Mr. Ali for about three years. As a regular traveler between Tehran and Pattaya he had been using her agency for his travel needs, and there was nothing to suggest that he knew the two men were going to travel using stolen passports, she said.

Though there is nothing to implicate the two Iranians, who had used the stolen passports, with the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (MH370), the stolen passports has added a twist to the mystery.

INTERPOL’s Stolen and Lost Travel Documents database holds information on more than 40 million travel documents reported lost or stolen by 167 countries. This database helps INTERPOL National Central Bureaus and other authorized law enforcement entities such as immigration and border control officers to double-check the validity of a suspect travel document in seconds. INTERPOL said both stolen passports had been added to its database of Stolen and Lost Travel Documents in 2012 and 2013 as soon as they were reported missing.

During the boarding of passengers on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (MH370) there had been a breach of security. The immigration authorities failed to check INTERPOL’s Stolen and Lost Travel Documents database at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, and the two Iranians slipped through. The truth came to light only after the disappearance of the aircraft.

This incident of stolen passports coming to light reminds me of the 2010 Air India Express Flight 812 overshot the runway at the ‘tabletop’ Bajpe airport in Mangalore, Karnataka, India. Only eight people survived the crash while 158 died. The aftermath of the crash revealed that around 10 stolen, counterfeit, and questionable passports were used by passengers on that flight. The incident also raised concerns about security checks at the Dubai International Airport.

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Mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 – The Search is Still on For Missing Aircraft


.Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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We have now entered the fourth day of searching for the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (MH370) that disappeared from the radar screens of Malaysia Airlines’ Air Traffic Control (ATC) radar systems in the early hours of Saturday, March 8, 2014.

At 07:24 MST on Saturday, March 8, 2014, Malaysia Airlines issued a statement to the media confirming that their Flight 370 (MH370) that took off from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport the same day at 00:41 MST on a scheduled six-hour flight to Beijing, China, went missing and was last seen on their ATC radars at 02:40 MST. It had 227 passengers and 12 crew members on board. (See my article: Mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370)

Many questions remain unanswered about the missing passenger jet aircraft.

Flight of MH370 (Source: mirror.co.uk)
Flight of MH370 (Source: mirror.co.uk)

At the time of disappearance from the radar screens Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 would have been travelling at an altitude of 35,000 feet (10,660 meters). The pilots did not send any distress signal. They did not convey any indications of bad weather or technical problems. The plane was carrying enough fuel for an extra 7.5 hours of flight.

Nine countries are now involved in the search effort, covering thousands of square miles of sea. According to Malaysian Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, the current multinational search for the missing plane now includes roughly 43 ships and 39 aircraft.

Source: heralsun.com.au
Source: heraldsun.com.au

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Mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj.

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Boeing 777-200ER Malaysia AL (MAS) 9M-MRO, the missing aircraft (Source: Laurent ERRERA from L'Union, France)
Boeing 777-200ER Malaysia AL (MAS) 9M-MRO, the missing aircraft (Source: Laurent ERRERA from L’Union, France)

On Saturday, March 8, 2014, a Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (MH370) took off from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, at 00:21 MST (March 7, 16:21 UTC) with 227 passengers and 12 crew members on board. It was a scheduled six-hour flight to Beijing Capital International Airport, Beijing, China. This international passenger flight operated by a Boeing 777-200ER was also designated under a codeshare agreement as China Southern Airlines Flight 748 (CZ748).

Fliight path of Malaysia Airlines MH370 (Source - Sailsbystars)
Fliight path of Malaysia Airlines MH370 (Source – Sailsbystars)

At 07:24 MST, Malaysia Airlines issued a media statement confirming that the aircraft was last seen on Air Traffic Control (ATC) radar at 02:40 MST (March 7, 18:40 UTC) at 6°55′15″N 103°34′43″E, approximately 100 miles (180 km) North of Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia. After that the aircraft ceased all communications, and the transponder signal was lost just before it was to be passed off to the Ho Chi Minh Area Control Center in Vietnam. Authorities in Thailand and China informed their Malaysian counterparts that the aircraft had not entered their airspace.

According to the military radar of Malaysia’s air force, the aircraft might have changed course and turned back toward Kuala Lumpur before disappearing and officials don’t know why the plane would have turned around. The pilots didn’t tell ATC that they were doing so.

Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, pilot of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370
Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, pilot of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. (Source: beforeitsnews.com)

Fariq Abdul Hamid, First officer of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.
Fariq Abdul Hamid, First officer of Flight MH370. (Source: beforeitsnews.com)

Malaysia Airlines said the 12 missing crew members on the flight were Malaysian. The plane’s pilot Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, a 53-year-old has been with the airline for over 30 years, and the plane’s first officer Fariq Hamid, a 27-year-old  joined the airline in 2007.

Malaysia Airlines said the plane’s pilot Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, a 53-year-old who has been with the airline for over 30 years, and the plane’s first officer Fariq Hamid, a 27-year-old who joined the airline in 2007 are Malaysians.

Of the 227 passengers on board, there were 154 from China and Taiwan, 38 Malaysians, seven Indonesians, six Australians, five Indians, four French, three from the U.S., and others from Indonesia, New Zealand, Canada, Ukraine, Russia, Austria, Italy, and the Netherlands. Among the passengers were a delegation of respected painters and calligraphers, employees of an American semiconductor company, a group of Buddhists returning from a religious gathering in Kuala Lumpur, a three-generation family, nine senior travelers and five children less than five years old.

What puzzles all is the fact that before vanishing from the radar screens the aircraft did not relay any distress signal, or convey any indications of bad weather or technical problems; and it was carrying a sufficient amount of fuel for an additional 7.5 hours of flight.

The Aviation Herald website reported that Subang Air Traffic Control lost radar and radio contact with the aircraft at 01:22 MST and officially advised Malaysia Airlines at 02:40 MST that the aircraft was missing. But, a Malaysia Airlines spokesperson said that the last conversation between the flight crew and air traffic control in Malaysia had been around 01:30 MST, and stated that the plane had not disappeared from air traffic control systems in Subang until 02:40 MST, which is long enough for the plane to have been flying across Vietnam.

The ATC requested another Malaysia Airlines flight, en route to Japan that took off about half an hour ahead of MH370, to contact the unresponsive aircraft. The captain established contact with the crew of MH370 just after 01:30 MST, but reported that he could not hear them clearly as they were ‘mumbling’.

A joint search-and-rescue effort by American, Australian, Chinese, Filipino, Indonesian, Malaysian, Singaporean, Thai, and Vietnamese authorities, is now under way mainly over the South China Sea.

On March 8, Vietnamese Navy reported that they located oil slicks in the Gulf of Thailand, about 50 nautical miles (93 km) south of Vietnam’s Thổ Chu Island.

On March 8, Vietnamese Navy reported that they located oil slicks in the Gulf of Thailand, about 50 nautical miles (93 km) south of Vietnam’s Thổ Chu Island. One oil slick, was between 6 and 12 miles (10 – 20 km) long. A Vietnamese Civil Aviation Department aircraft spotted two large oil slicks that authorities suspect might be from the MAS jetliner. The slicks, each between 6 and 9 miles (10 – 15 km) long and 500 meters apart, were spotted 140 nautical miles (260 km) south of the Thổ Chu Island off southern Vietnam.

On March 9, Vietnamese aircraft spotted what they suspected was one of the doors belonging to the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 off southern Vietnam. Since it was too dark to ascertain whether the object was part of the missing plane, they decided to investigate the site in the morning. However, on Monday, Vietnamese officials said that they had not been able to locate the object spotted on Sunday that was thought to be part of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane.

Officials are now investigating the possibility of a midair disintegration.

How did this aircraft with with 227 passengers and 12 crew members on board disappear without any trace? In the following video Aviation expert David Gleave explains how a plane can ‘vanish’ off radar and what clues investigators will be looking for in the search for the missing plane and the mystery deepens.

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This disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 without a trace reminds me of the Bermuda Triangle, The Devil’s Sea, and the vile vortices where a number of aircraft and ships are said to have disappeared under mysterious circumstances.

The Bermuda Triangle, also known as the Devil’s Triangle, is an undefined region in the western part of the North Atlantic Ocean, where a number of aircraft and ships are said to have disappeared under mysterious circumstances.

The Dragon’s Triangle, also known as the Formosa Triangle, and the “Pacific Bermuda Triangle”, is a region of the Pacific around Miyake Island, about 100 km south of Tokyo. The Japanese call it the Ma-no Umi meaning the Devil’s Sea. The Dragon’s Triangle, is one of 12 Vile Vortices, originally plotted by Ivan T. Sanderson. The size and area varies with the reports that originated from the 1950s. Various reports locate it 68 miles (110 km) from an unspecified part of Japan’s east coast, 300 miles (480 km) from the coast, and one report places it near Iwo Jima which is 650 nautical miles (750 miles; 1,200 km) south of mainland Tokyo.

The Dragon's Triangle by Charles BerlitzCharles Berlitz, author of books on paranormal phenomena, states in his entertaining book The Dragon’s Triangle (1989) that in the peacetime years between 1952-54 Japan lost five military vessels with over 700 crew members. The Japanese government then sent a research vessel with over 100 scientists on board to study the Devil’s Sea, and that vessel too vanished. According to Berlitz, that sea region was officially declared a danger zone on Japanese maps.

However, in 1995, Larry Kusche published his book “The Bermuda Triangle Mystery Solved” in which he mentions that the Japanese research vessel that Berlitz mentioned was named Kaiyo Maru No 5. It had a crew of 31 aboard. While investigating the activity of an undersea volcano, Myōjin-shō, about 300 km south of the Devil’s Sea, it was destroyed by an eruption on September 24, 1952. He also stated that the “military vessels” mentioned by Berlitz were fishing vessels lost between April 1949 and October 1953.  Some of them were lost outside the Devil’s Sea, far away from the Japanese mainland, between Miyake Island and Iwo Jima, 1200 km to the south. He also points out that hundreds of fishing boats were lost around Japan every year.

The Vile Vortices is a term referring to twelve geographic areas or twelve vertex points of a planetary grid that are alleged by Ivan Sanderson to have been the sites of mysterious disappearances. He identified them in 1972 in an article published in Saga magazine titled “The Twelve Devil’s Graveyards Around the World.”

Ten of Ivan Sanderson’s 12 vortices set at regular intervals around the earth. The North and South Pole account for the 11th and 12th vortices.
Ten of Ivan Sanderson’s 12 vortices set at regular intervals around the earth. The North and South Pole account for the 11th and 12th vortices.

Sanderson asserts that twelve “vortices” are situated along particular lines of latitude. The best known of the so-called “vortices” is the Bermuda Triangle. Others include Algerian Megaliths to the south of Timbuktu, the Indus Valley in Pakistan, especially the city of Mohenjo Daro, Hamakulia Volcano in Hawaii, the “Devil’s Sea” near Japan and the South Atlantic Anomaly. Five of the vortices are on the same latitude to the north of the equator; five are on the same latitude to the south. The other two are the north and south poles.

Now, the location where the aircraft was last seen on Air Traffic Control (ATC) radar at 02:40 MST (March 7, 18:40 UTC) was at 6°55′15″N 103°34′43″E, approximately 100 miles (180 km) North of Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia. This location is 2,632 nautical miles (3029 miles; 4874 km) from Tokyo (24°47’N 141°19’E), and 2415 nautical miles (2779 miles; 4472 km) from Iwo Jima (24°47’N 141°19’E) and is a bit far away from the Dragon’s Triangle and not near any of Ivan Sanderson’s vile vortices.

So, up to now, the mystery of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines  Boeing 777 (Flight MH370) continues.

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Equality for Women is Progress for All …


. Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj.

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Equality for women is progress for all.”

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Frauentag 1914 Heraus mit dem Frauenwahlrecht (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Frauentag 1914 Heraus mit dem Frauenwahlrecht (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

A century ago, the above poster in German for International Women’s Day, March 8th, 1914, proclaimed:

“Give Us Women’s Suffrage. Women’s Day, March 8, 1914. Until now, prejudice and reactionary attitudes have denied full civic rights to women, who as workers, mothers, and citizens wholly fulfill their duty, who must pay their taxes to the state as well as the municipality. Fighting for this natural human right must be the firm, unwavering intention of every woman, every female worker. In this, no pause for rest, no respite is allowed. Come all, you women and girls, to the 9th public women’s assembly on Sunday, March 8, 1914, at 3pm.”

Today, though equality for women has made positive gains, still inequality remains in most part of the world.

Women’s rights activists across the world celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) annually on March 8; and this day has been marked by the United Nations since 1975.

The official United Nations theme for International Women’s Day 2014 is “Equality for women is progress for all.

The first National Women’s Day was observed on February 28, 1909 in the United States following a declaration by the Socialist Party of America.

The day developed as a Socialist political event, and was formerly called International Working Women’s Day. The earliest observances of the day were held on different dates: May 3, 1908, in Chicago; February 28th, 1909, and on February 27, 1910, in New York.

The Working Women’s Day was celebrated primarily in Russia, and to a certain extent in many other countries in Europe. In some countries, the day became an amalgamation of Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day, and for men to express their gratitude and love for women.

In August 1910, before the general meeting of the Socialist Second International in Copenhagen, an International Women’s Conference was organized. At that conference, German Socialist Luise Zietz proposed to institute an annual “International Woman’s Day” (note it is singular) as to promote equal rights, including suffrage, for women. The proposition was seconded by fellow socialist and later communist leader Clara Zetkin. However, no date was fixed then. A Hundred woman delegates from 17 countries agreed to the motion.

The following year, on March 19, 1911, for the first time, over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland observed IWD. There were around 300 demonstrations in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In Vienna, women paraded on the Ringstraße (Ringstrasse) carrying banners to honour the martyrs of the Paris Commune.

Women demanded that women be given the right to vote and to hold public office. They also protested against discrimination for employment based on gender.

The American women, however, continued to celebrate its National Women’s Day on the last Sunday in February. In 1913, Russian women too observed their first International Women’s Day on the last Sunday in February, according to the Julian calendar then used in Russia.

There were some women-led strikes, marches, and other protests in the years leading up to 1914, but none of them took place on March 8.

In 1914 International Women’s Day was held on March 8, presumably because that day was a Sunday. From then on IWD is always held on March 8 in all countries.

International Women's Day (Source: theobamacrat.com)
International Women’s Day (Source: theobamacrat.com)

International Women’s Day 2014 is the subject of the latest doodle displayed on Google’s home page. The Doodle video features over a 100 inspiring women from around the world. It includes the president of Lithuania, a brave Pakistani education activist, the most recorded artist in music history and an ever-curious explorer. The full list of women in this video on our doodle site.

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The Gulabi Gang – The Fearless Women in Pink


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Sampat Pal Devi and her Gulabi Gang members  (Source: i.facebook.com/pages/Sampat-Pal-Devi)
Sampat Pal Devi and her Gulabi Gang members (Source: facebook.com/pages/Sampat-Pal-Devi)

These women dressed in pink and with laathi (bamboo stick) in their hands are fearless!

Their leader Sampat Pal Devi is a mother of five children and a former government health worker. She has a long list of criminal charges against her: unlawful assembly, rioting, attacking government employees, obstructing officers in the discharge of duty, beating a policeman for abusing her, and so on. Once she even went underground to hide from the law. However, her actions have secured notable victories for the community.

Sampat Pal Devi (Source: facebook.com/pages/Sampat-Pal-Devi
Sampat Pal Devi (Source: facebook.com/pages/Sampat-Pal-Devi

Sampat Pal Devi (born 1960) is a tough woman with a commanding personality. She hails from the Bundelkhand area in the state of Uttar Pradesh – one of the poorest region in India and notorious for its rebels-turned-armed bandits. Sampat is a vigilante and activist fighting for the rights of women in the villages.

She was given in marriage to an ice-cream vendor at the tender age of 12. She bore her first child, a girl, at 15.

In 2006, responding to widespread domestic abuse and other violence against women, Sampat Pal Devi formed the Gulabi Gang (Hindi गुलाबी gulabī, “pink”), a group of Indian women vigilantes. Most Gulabi members dress in pink and carry laathis in their hand.

Despite being born into a traditional family and married off early, Sampat evolved into a charismatic leader who acts as judge and jury for girls and women who are being abused by outlawed patriarchal traditions and the caste system.

Sampat and her gang are constantly on the move fighting causes for the betterment of the community. They crusade against child marriages, dowry, and female illiteracy.

To demand their rights, the rebellious women gang submits petitions and verbally attacks corrupt officials, sneering policemen and complaisant bureaucrats. They visit abusive husbands and beat them up with laathis and warn them to stop abusing their wives in the future.

They usually travel by cart and tractor. At times, they undertake long journeys by bus and train, to fight for justice for women and dalits and other untouchable people.

In 2008, when her village was deprived of electricity because the officials of the department expected to extract bribes and sexual favours from the women, she and her stick-wielding Gulabi Gang stormed the premises of the electricity department, locked the concerned officials in a room until they cried for mercy. An hour after they left the premises, the power was on in their village.

In 2008, the group was reported to have 20,000 members as well as a chapter in Paris, France. Now, the Gulabi Gang has taken root in Banda, Mahoba, Chitrakot, Fatehpur, Farrukhabad, Kanpur, Allahabad, Etawah and Bijnore and has about 300,000 women members.

The Gulabi gang is the subject of the 2010 movie Pink Saris by Kim Longinotto as is the 2012 documentary Gulabi Gang by Nishtha Jain.

Initially, it was reported that the Bollywood film, Gulaab Gang, starring Madhuri Dixit and Juhi Chawla as leads, is based on Sampat Pal’s life, but the director denied this, saying that he recognizes the work done by Sampat, but his movie is not based on her life.

Gulabi Gang's esrtwhile leader Sampat Pal (Source: indiatoday.intoday.in)
Gulabi Gang’s esrtwhile leader Sampat Pal (Source: indiatoday.intoday.in)

Now, the all-women Gulabi Gang is heading for a split as there is a tussle in leadership. On Sunday, March 2, 2014, six years after its inception, the group’s founder commander Sampat Pal Devi was dethroned by the Maharashtra based national convener of Gulabi gang Jayprakash Shivhare at a meeting in Banda following allegations of financial irregularities – “taking money for resolving the problems of poor and suffering women,” and “involvement in self promotion” at the cost of the organization’s mission.

The national convener of Gulabi Gang, Jayprakash Shivhare said:

“There is huge resentment in the organization against Pal. She had been playing in the hands of the Congress party… She had stopped holding meetings of the group and used to take decisions autocratically. She contested Assembly elections on
Congress ticket without taking any suggestion from other members of the group… Later, she decided to visit Rae Bareli along with other members and campaign in support of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and against Aam Aadmi Party.”

“She also went to TV reality show Bigg Boss without consulting the working committee of the group. She had gradually become extremely selfish and minting money at the cost of the organization… Removing her from all posts was the only option left with us. Since she has been defying decisions of the group, it was decided that she would no longer be its primary member.”

Suman Singh Chauhan, commander of Mahoba unit has been appointed as interim commander of the group and a seven-member committee has been constituted to run the organization as of now. A meeting of the group has been convened on March 23 to elect a full-time commander.

However, Sampat Pal Devi, asserted her authority saying she was still the leader of the Gulabi Gang.

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