The next time commandos of the National Security Guard have to go on an anti-terrorist operation, they can drive to the airport and commandeer any aircraft.
Learning lessons from 26/11 where the first few hours were lost waiting for an aircraft, the Home Ministry on Friday night empowered the NSG director general to requisition aircraft from any operator registered in India, Home Ministry spokesman Onkar Kedia said on Saturday.
Existing regulations empowered the NSG to requisition a private aircraft in case of an anti-hijacking exercise only.
A Home Ministry official said Friday’s notification also ensured that the NSG would not have to approach the government for clearance before passing the order or exhaust all options to borrow a government aircraft from the Indian Air Force or the Aviation Research Centre. The government will later compensate the airline.
The power to commandeer an aircraft for quick movement of troops had come into focus in context of the recent terror strikes in Mumbai. It had then taken three hours for the NSG commandos to take-off from Delhi. They reached the Taj hotel nine hours after the first SOS had been sent.
With these notifications in place, NSG would be able to get an aircraft at a short notice for moving its commandos for anti-terrorist operation, Kedia said.