M A I N   N E W S

Govt toughens anti-hijack policy
Can shoot down planes
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 14
In a bid to prevent Kandahar-type hijacking and any hijacked plane being used as a missile to target vital installations like the 9/11 terror attack in the United States, the government has unveiled a tough anti-hijack policy.

The policy, cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Security this week, almost six years after Indian Airlines flight IC-814 was hijacked to Kandahar, empowered it to shoot down a commercial plane if it was hijacked.

It also strictly ruled out any negotiations with hijackers on meeting any of their demands.

The hijackers would be spoken to only for the release of the passengers, official sources said today. If the hijacking took place on the Indian soil, the aircraft would be immobilised and not allowed to take off.

According to the policy, if a rogue aircraft paid no heed to ATC warnings and deviated from its specified path or headed towards any strategic spot such as Rashtrapati Bhavan, India Gate or Parliament House, a decision on shooting it down would come into play.

In case of an emergency situation, the shoot down orders could be given by the Prime Minister, the Defence Minister or the Home Minister, whoever could be contacted first.

The policy also stated that fighter aircraft would escort any plane that was hijacked, forcing it to land at the nearest airport. The jets would escort the plane all time it was within the Indian airspace.

According to the directive, the hijacked plane must be stopped from taking off once it had landed in an Indian airport.

The policy was finalised at the two-hour meeting, presided over by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Among others present were Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel, Home Minister Shivraj Patil, Finance Minister P Chidambaram and top officials, including Civil Aviation Secretary Ajay Prasad.

The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation had earlier submitted to the government a set of procedures and plans on anti-hijacking measures.

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