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Omar Abdullah alleges security guidelines relaxed for PM’s seaplane ride

Gujarat elections 2017: Former J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah has pointed out that no Z+ protectee is allowed to fly in a single-engine aircraft as Prime Minister Narendra Modi did today.

india Updated: Dec 12, 2017 20:47 IST
Agencies, New Delhi
Gujarat elections,Modi's seaplane ride,seaplane
Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves to the crowd as he boards a seaplane on the Sabarmati riverfront in Ahmedabad on Tuesday. (PTI)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flight on a single-engine seaplane on Tuesday, the last day of campaigning for the Gujarat elections, has triggered a controversy over a possible breach of security protocol.

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah took to Twitter to ask why security guidelines were relaxed for the Prime Minister

“How is it that the security guidelines were relaxed for this flight? No Z+ protectee is allowed to fly in a single engine aircraft, much less the PM of our country,” Abdullah said.

Government sources, however, told Hindustan Times there is no firm rule in this regard.

“But there is an advisory which states that VIP protectees should preferably fly in twin engine aircraft for domestic travels, while during international travels, the aircraft should be equipped with at least three to four engines,” said an IPS officer who has dealt with issues of VIP security earlier.

Abdullah also questioned the decision to have a foreign pilot manning the seaplane when such tasks are usually carried out by Indian Air Force pilots.

“Single engine plane. Foreign pilots. Is there any security guideline that will not be thrown out today,” he asked.

The seaplane was brought to India by Japan’s Setouchi Holdings, part of the small aircraft aviation industry. Indian low-cost carrier Spicejet has been working closely with the Japanese firm for over six months to explore opportunities for small 10- and 14-seater amphibious and land plane operations to provide air connectivity to smaller towns in India. The two conducted seaplane trials in at Mumbai’s Girgaum Chowpatty on Saturday.

Modi, whose roadshow in Ahmedabad was cancelled on Monday over law and order concerns, took a seaplane ride from the Sabarmati river in Ahmedabad to Dharoi Dam from where he visited the Ambaji temple.

Besides Abdullah, the opposition Congress too took a dig at Modi’s style of pulling the curtains down on his campaign, calling the seaplane ride a “distraction” from real issues and a “hawa hawai” (gas).

The BJP, however, hailed the move with Union minister of road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari calling it a “big revolution” in the field of transport.

Speaking to ANI, Gadkari said the first-ever flight by such a craft in the country can also be a revolutionary dream for the people of India.

“Today is a historical day as the Prime Minister travelled in a seaplane. Seaplane is a revolutionary factor in the field of transport. It will be a big revolution in the transport sector as India has huge potential,” he said.

First Published: Dec 12, 2017 20:03 IST