Government has put all Air India planes operating in the country's neighbourhood on high security alert following intelligence inputs from Western agencies that Pakistan-based LeT and other terror groups were planning to hijack a flight.
"The alerts have been issued by us and it is based on some intelligence inputs that we have received. We suspect that there can be an attempt to target one of our airlines especially those, which fly abroad. We have alerted our agencies to be careful on anti-hijacking measures," U K Bansal, Secretary (Internal Security), said.
He said the Civil Aviation Ministry and the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) have been alerted to tighten security in all airports in the country.
A directive has been issued to all Indian missions abroad to sensitise the staff of the airlines, he said.
"These are anti-India terrorist outfits whose objectives are to carry out attacks in India or harm Indian interests," he said.
According to intelligence inputs, terrorist groups having allegiance with Al-Qaeda, Lashker-e-Taiba and Jamat-ul-Dawa were planning to hijack an Air India plane especially operating in or from SAARC countries -- Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Maldives, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India as well.
The terrorists from airports located at Yangon, Dhaka and Colombo could attempt hijacking. Security of planes operating to Bhutan has also been beefed up, official sources said.
Following this input, the Civil Aviation Ministry has directed all the airlines especially Air India to take extra steps besides asking BCAS to deploy sky marshals on aircraft operating on such routes, the sources said.
On its part, the External Affairs Ministry has asked Indian missions, particularly in SAARC countries, to brief the staff of the Air India and other Indian carriers about the threat.
Taking a serious view of the threat, the Home Ministry yesterday issued directions to upgrade security.
The intelligence input has been shared with India by Western spy agencies, which had received an intercept.
The BCAS has issued an advisory to all airlines to conduct a mandatory secondary ladder point check on all aircraft flying in the region.