Private commercial planes may soon be used for anti-hijacking exercises with the Home Ministry suggesting the anti-terror elite force National Security Guard (NSG) explored the option. The suggestion for using commercial planes was made by home ministry officials during an hour-long meeting, chaired by Home Minister Rajnath Singh. At present, the NSG is empowered for requisition of aircraft from any operator registered in India in case of emergency, while its anti-hijacking exercise could be conducted on any government or Air India aircraft. “If the anti-hijacking drill is conducted on a commercial plane, it will help both the airline as well as the NSG to understand various nuances involved in such a crisis,” a home ministry official said. The ministry will soon provide a chopper to the NSG to be used in case of exigencies. Though the NSG had two choppers, one had a crash landing some time ago, while the other was non-functional.
“The NSG urgently needs a helicopter. The chopper may be given from the existing fleet of the Border Security Force or from the Indian Air Force. We are working on it,” the official said. During the meeting, the home minister reviewed the functioning of the NSG and took stock of various facets of the elite anti-terror force. He was given a detailed briefing on the working of the NSG by its Director General Sudhir Pratap Singh and other top officials.
Singh also enquired about the preparedness of the NSG commandos, popularly known as ‘Black Cat’, to deal with exigencies or terror situation, official sources said. He was told that the training for the ‘Black Cat’ commandos was a continuous process and they were alert 24X7 to move swiftly to deal with any crisis or hostage-like situation, the sources said.
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Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju, Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, senior officials of the home ministry also attended the meeting.
The NSG was set up in 1984 as a federal contingency deployment force to tackle all facets of terrorism in the country. The primary role of the force is to combat terrorism in areas where activity of terrorists assumes serious proportions, and the state police and other central police forces cannot cope with the situation. The NSG is a force specially-equipped and trained to deal with specific situations and is therefore, to be used only in exceptional situations. The force is not designed to undertake the functions of the state police forces or other paramilitary forces of India. It is 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 comprising Army personnel and the Special Ranger Groups, comprising personnel drawn from the central paramilitary forces/state police force.
All the personnel are on deputation. The NSG commandos also provide security to a few dignitaries, including the home minister, former deputy prime minister L K Advani, former chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh Mulayam Singh Yadav, Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal besides others. The NSG was highly appreciated for eliminating the 10 terrorists who carried out the attacks in Mumbai on November 26, 2008. The NSG’s headquarters is in New Delhi while the training facility is located on the outskirts of the national capital. After the 26/11 attacks, the central government had set up four regional hubs of the NSG in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai and Kolkata to reduce reaction time. Regional centres are being raised at Hyderabad and Ahmedabad.