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A Tribune Exclusive
Jet unlikely to fly to US; Dawood links questioned
Swati Chaturvedi

New Delhi, June 24
In a major setback to the beleaguered aviation major Jet’s plans to fly to the United States, the US government’s Transport Department has asked the Indian government to “verify, investigate and comment on the airline’s alleged financial links with wanted terrorist Dawood Ibrahim and also links with Al-Qaida”.

Jet owner Naresh Goyal’s troubles seem to be never ending as this follows the question-mark over his security clearance by the Ministry of Home Affairs. The US Transport Department’s missives were addressed to the MHA, Ministry of External Affairs and the Civil Aviation Ministry.

Although the US has been scrupulous in asking for an investigation saying that these are allegations made by a US aviation company, the request has created a flutter in government circles.

A Civil Aviation spokesman confirmed to The Tribune that the Ministry had received the US request which had been passed on to the Ministry of Home Affairs. “We are in no position to conduct an investigation. Since we are seized of the matter let the Ministry concerned investigate,” said the spokesman.

It may be recalled that even earlier Goyal’s security clearance to be on the Jet board had run into trouble. Despite, an adverse report by the Intelligence Bureau the clearance was eventually given. Following this the Jet applied for permission to start flights to the US, resulting in this fresh trouble.

The earlier IB report sent to the government by the former director, Mr. K P Singh, had asked for investigations about Jet’s funding and its holding company, Tailwinds. The report spoke of alleged links with Ibrahim and wanted fresh in-depth investigations.

With Jet’s takeover of Sahara in Indian aviation’s biggest deal valued at Rs 2500 crore security clearance for Goyal to sit on the Sahara board required fresh clearance.

While, it is still unclear whether the MHA has given Goyal clearance, Janata Dal United chief and former Civil Aviation Minister Sharad Yadav has demanded that Goyal be arrested and clearance be withheld.

Speaking to The Tribune Mr Yadav, said: “The pressure I have faced in the last couple of days, ever since I took up the issue, is tremendous. In my entire political career I have never faced this. While, refusing to name anyone Mr Yadav made it clear that he had even been approached by his own party bigwigs.

“But, I will not give in.’’ he said. With the MHA sitting on the matter and the Jet-Sahara deal turning sour and heading for the courts, Union Minister for Civil Aviation Praful Patel told the Tribune: “I am only concerned about the passengers and whether Jet flies in India or not. The deal is not my concern.’’

— The writer is an anchor with Janmat TV. She writes regularly for The Tribune.

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