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New anti-hijack rules come into force in India

LiveMint logoLiveMint 07-07-2017 Tarun Shukla

New Delhi: The civil aviation ministry has notified a new anti-hijacking law which includes the death penalty for hijackers.

“Rules under anti hijacking act have been notified on 5th of July,” said an aviation ministry official who did not wish to be named.

The law empowers concerned security forces to immobilize an aircraft or prevent its take-off.

The Indian Air Force can also scramble its fighters to intercept a hijacked aircraft and force it to land. It can also shoot down a hostile plane if there is evidence that it could be used as a missile to hit a vital installation.

The Anti-Hijacking (Amendment) Bill, 2010, was introduced in the Rajya Sabha in August 2010 and cleared in 2014.

“The (anti-hijacking) Bill provides death punishment for the offence of hijacking, where such offence results in the death of a hostage or of a security personnel; or with imprisonment for life and the moveable and immoveable property of such persons shall also be liable to be confiscated,” the government said in a statement on 3 December 2014.

The bill has been considered for a decade and half ever since an Indian Airlines (now Air India) flight IC-814 was hijacked on its way back to Delhi from Kathmandu, half an hour after take off on 24 December 1999. Taken over by five Pakistani hijackers with 180 passengers and crew, the flight was forced to make a detour to Kandahar in Afghanistan.

The hijacking drama continued for several days with family members of passengers pressuring the Indian government to help free the hostages. An agreement was reached for the release of the passengers in exchange for three jailed militants—Maulana Masood Azhar, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and Mushtaq Zargar.

Then foreign minister Jaswant Singh personally escorted the freed militants to Kandahar—a move that was widely criticized.

The new rules brings the Indian law in line with the Beijing Protocol of the UN body International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

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