Terrorists Plan to Hijack Indian Plane, Flights Put on High Alert: Report

All Air India/Indian Airlines flights operating in South Asia have been put on high security alert after specific intelligence on Thursday that Islamic fundamentalist groups aligned with al-Qaida or the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) plan to hijack one such flight, reported Indian Express.

Target of terrorists is possibly an Air India/Indian Airlines plane operating to and from ‘any of the SAARC countries’ and it can come to pass anytime ‘in the near future’, said report citing intelligence sources.

Immediately after intelligence was received and found creditable, the Home Ministry convened an urgent meeting yesterday itself and issued a set of directions aimed at upgrading security, which included deployment of sky marshals on all flights of the carrier operating in the region, said report.

Report said that the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) issued an advisory to all airlines to conduct a mandatory ‘100 per cent secondary ladder point check’ until January 31 on all aircraft flying between these eight countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Also, other measures have been activate such as strengthening anti-hijacking measures and coordination with agencies concerned with the task and sensitizing security agencies of all countries where Air India/Indian Airlines aircraft operate, said report.

Report said citing sources that after a terror-free 2009 in India, anti-India terrorist groups are under pressure to carry out a ‘sensational strike’ soon.

The possibility of hijacking an Indian commercial aircraft is higher from foreign soil as many of the terror groups do have associates in most of neighbouring countries, said report citing sources.

While flights to Afghanistan and Nepal get high security, other sectors like Colombo, Dhaka and even Yangon have now come into focus. Operations to Pakistan had been suspended earlier due to low traffic while Dhaka is connected by Air India Express, said report.

Report said citing sources that even private airlines operating in these sectors would be sensitized.

While top officials like the National Security Advisor and the Home Secretary are to be kept regularly updated, authorities dealing with civil aviation security have been asked to step up gears and carry out frequent checks. Similarly, Immigration officials have been put on alert and are coordinating with security agencies of other countries, said report.

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