Over the past few years, the security landscape in India has undergone a major shift. From tactical traditional threats to information technology driven modern threats, India has been striving forward to develop robust and scientific frameworks to deal with complex situations as they arise. The lacklustre efforts have now been replaced by fast and efficient mitigation protocols to take on the threats head-on. Legislation in this respect has also been the top priority of the government in order to plug in the loopholes, which have been exploited for long.
The most recent example of this shift from the old system is the conviction of Mumbai-based businessman Birju Kishore Salla in the ‘hijack hoax’ case. On 30th October 2017, Birju Kishore Salla had left a note onboard a Jet Airways flight bound for Delhi from Mumbai, warning that there were hijackers and explosives onboard. He was arrested after the plane had made an emergency landing in Ahmedabad and later he became the first person to be put on the no-fly list, constituted in 2017, and also the first to be tried under the stringent Anti-Hijacking Act, 2016, which had replaced the earlier 1982 Act. Birju Salla has been sentenced to life imprisonment and a fine of 5 crore has also been slapped on him.
According to the chargesheet, filed on January 23, the accused, Birju Salla, did it in a “planned manner” — and preparation of the threat note was captured on the office CCTV camera.
“Flight no 9w covered by Hijackers and aircraft should not be land and flown straight to POK. 12 people on board. If you put landing gear you will hear the noise of people dying. Don’t take it as a joke…” Birju Salla wrote on the tissue paper.
After action on Birju Salla, it is evident that similar events, which were not paid any heed in the past and were let off using administrative loopholes, are now being considered with due diligence and utmost strictness. This surely marks the success of India’s efforts to further improve on the security dimensions in aviation.
However, this is just the tip of the iceberg, which displays India’s renewed efforts towards creating and managing sustainable security frameworks to protect the Indian national interests. India has also tightened the noose around legal offenders evading the country who earlier exploited dull and ambiguous frameworks to escape the consequences. Manpreet Singh Chadha aka Monty Chadha, son of Ponty Chadha, the liquor and real estate baron who was killed in a shootout six years ago, was also arrested from the Delhi airport on Wednesday in connection with a cheating case while trying to board a Thailand bound flight.
Ex-Jet Airways Chief, Naresh Goyal was also stopped at Mumbai Airport as he was about to board an international flight to Dubai. Various aviation companies have also instructed their crews to support efforts towards curbing unlawful activities on flights. Advisories against smuggling and other unlawful practices have been issued by several airlines.
Proactive and holistic reforms in various critical areas including the aviation sector have surely been the top agenda of Modi 1.0 and this trend will most certainly be carried forward in the second term. This improved vigilance will surely be an aiding factor to the multidimensional efforts being made to safeguard India’s national interests.