Monday, 6 April 2015

Lack of planes grounds National Security Guard's anti-hijack drill

The Black Cat commandos have written to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) seeking help on the issue. They want MHA to put pressure on private airlines to provide them modern aircraft.
While international exclusive airlines are leaving no stone unturned to tackle terror in the skies, India's elite security force, the National Security Guard (NSG), are literally begging for a modern aircraft to carry out anti-hijack drills! These black cat commandos, who would be dispatched at a minute's notice to take on terrorists and save passengers in case of a hijack, have to make do with a smaller, outdated aircraft provided by Air India. Not for them the Boeings and the Airbuses that crowd the skies with billions of fliers daily.

No airlines except Air India and sometimes Jet Airways have come forward to provide their aircraft to this elite security force. The NSG has discussed the matter at high-level meetings with heads of various agencies, but not a single modern aircraft has come their way so far. A source at the NSG said airlines are busy making profits and are not bothered about the safety of fliers. Now, the elite force has approached the Union home ministry to put pressure on airlines to provide it with modern aircraft. NSG commandos have been specially trained to tackle hostage situations in any type of aircraft, but anti-hijack drills are an absolute necessity.

Seeking help

"For almost five years the NSG has been using an old aircraft provided by the Air India which is parked near Gate number 15 of the IGI airport. On rare occasions, Jet Airways provide aircraft for mock drill. The matter has been discussed by NSG top officials in various anti-hijacking committee meetings but to no avail. Now, we have approached the Union Home Ministry to immediately provide us latest and different types of aircraft to carry out antihijack drills," a senior NSG official told MAIL TODAY.

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According to an official of another security agency, who is a member in the anti-hijacking committee, every time the NSG, the CISF or other security agencies request airlines to provide aircraft for drills, airlines refuse them immediately without giving a thought to the possible consequence.

The NSG has a plan in place for every aircraft in case there is a hijack. But drills are necessary to hone skills.

Mock drills

"NSG teams want to carry out mock drills inside different kinds of aircraft, like Boeing's latest aircraft, for the security of the nation. International airlines have these planes but they have their excuses ready. They say they do not have the time to spare a single aircraft for this purpose. All the NSG needs is an hour to carry out the drill every once in a while," a member of the anti-hijacking committee said.

On their part, airlines argue schedules are tightly packed. "It is not possible to spare an aircraft to the NSG as we have pre-decided schedules with every aircraft. If we start sparing planes for mock drills, passengers would be at the receiving hand as they will face inordinate delays," an airline official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told MAIL TODAY.

Every alternate week, NSG commandos perform mock drills inside an outdated aircraft of Air India. There is a senior official to keep check on the performance of every commando of the NSG. Later, this official prepares a report and superior officials analyse it to decide how to enhance performance of the black cats. If only they had a proper plane! The NSG is an elite force set up in 1984 to tackle all forms of terrorism in the country.

The NSG commandos are specially equipped and trained to deal with specific situations and are used only in exceptional situations.

The NSG was modelled on the pattern of the SAS of the UK and GSG-9 of Germany. It is a task-oriented force and has two complementary elements in the form of the Special Action Group (SAG) comprising Army personnel and the Special Ranger Groups (SRG).

Source Indian Army

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