Families of Indians on missing Malaysian jet in 'agonising wait'

Aircraft from several countries are searching for the missing Malaysian jet Image copyright AFP
Image caption Aircraft from several countries are searching for the missing Malaysian jet

The plight of the families of five Indian passengers aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines jet is dominating headlines.

Beijing-bound flight MH370 vanished on Saturday shortly after it left Kuala Lumpur. There were 239 people, mostly Chinese nationals, on board.

Teams from at least six countries have since been searching for any sign of the plane.

The family of one of the Indian passengers, Chandrika Sharma, 51, has criticised the Indian government for not reaching out, The Indian Express reports.

"I would have liked to see basic courtesies, and honourable assurances," the paper quotes Ms Sharma's husband, KS Narendran, as saying.

"It is ironical that India that claims to be a regional power and aims to play a prominent role on the global scene has no word on the incident, no offer of assistance for the search and rescue operation until 11 March," he adds.

However, the Indian Coast Guard has now deployed an aircraft to help search the waters near India's Andaman and Nicobar Islands after the Malaysian authorities decided to expand the search to the Andaman Sea, the Deccan Herald reports.

Ms Sharma had taken the Malaysian flight en route to Mongolia to attend a regional conference, reports say.

Kranti Shirsath, a resident of the western Indian city of Pune, was also on the MH370 and her family say persistent "conspiracy theories" have made their wait even more difficult.

"Apart from no information about the plane, what hurts most are conspiracy theories," Ms Shirsath's husband, Pralhad, told the Indian Express.

But he said the Indian and Malaysian authorities have been helpful.

AAP's 'chaotic ride'

Moving on to domestic politics, anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare's failure to turn up at a "joint rally" in Delhi with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee suggests a fallout between the two leaders, papers say.

Most papers carry images of empty chairs from the event which was expected to be the chief minister's first major rally in the capital.

"The immediate fallout was a start of a blame game with both Ms Banerjee and Mr Hazare accusing each other for the poor show," The Times of India reports.

Mr Hazare, who led a massive major anti-corruption movement in 2012, decided to back the West Bengal chief minister last month.

Mr Hazare's former colleague and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal's ride on a local passenger train in Mumbai caused "chaos" at the city's train stations, reports say.

Mr Kejriwal's presence "caused all sorts of problems for regular commuters, with AAP supporters and policemen guarding the leader and preventing Mumbai residents from boarding the coach he was on," the Hindustan Times reports.

The AAP governed Delhi for 49 days after a strong showing in the state assembly elections in December last year.

But Mr Kejriwal resigned from his post after the assembly voted against the tabling of his version of a new anti-corruption bill.

The AAP now hopes to repeat its success in Delhi when it takes on big political parties in the upcoming general election.

And finally, India's aviation authorities have asked airlines not to prohibit disabled people from boarding, The Times of India reports.

The order issued by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation Prabhat Kumar says "no airline shall refuse to carry persons with disability or reduced mobility and their assistive aids/devices, escorts and guide dogs", the paper reports.

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