Plan to deploy guards on merchant vessels shelved, says CISF chief

In 2012, the CISF had raised a unit of marine commandos to protect merchant vessels against piracy in high seas.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Published: March 9, 2016 3:13 am
Armed CISF jawans stand guard outside the airport in Nagpur in the wake of the attack on the IAF base in Pathankot. (Source: PTI) CISF is the agency that is in-charge overall for airport security in the country, it is assisted by local police and the Air Force, more pro-actively at sensitive facilities like IGI. (Source: PTI)

The legal tussle between India and Italy on exercising criminal jurisdiction over Italian marines who killed two Indian fishermen has made the government shelve its project of deploying trained CISF men on merchant vessels to guard against pirate attacks. CISF DG Surender Singh Tuesday confirmed that the government had abandoned the project. “There are legal issues with that. The Italian marines case is fresh in our memory. Ministry of External Affairs has examined all the issues and decided against the project. It is dead for now,” said Singh.

In 2012, the CISF had raised a unit of marine commandos to protect merchant vessels against piracy in high seas. It was ready to be deployed for a price by the industry. But due to the legal tangle that the arrest of two Italian marines exposed, the plan was suspended at that time.

Meanwhile, during his annual interaction with journalists, Singh also said that 62 incidents of unidentified objects being spotted in the airspace were reported from Delhi’s international airport over the last three months.

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“These objects, however, are like toy balloons, kites, Chinese balloons among others. It is very difficult to make out (about the kind of the flying objects with naked eyes),” he added.

The DG said the government planned to soon come out with “operational guidelines” to tackle such cases. He also referred to a similar incident of a suspected drone-like object being spotted near IGI airport runway. “This is a general problem which is not only at the airport. There are other sensitive installations too (near the airport area). Soon guidelines will be out determining the responsibility of each agency in such cases,” the CISF chief said.

While the CISF is the agency that is in-charge overall for airport security in the country, it is assisted by local police and the Air Force, more pro-actively at sensitive facilities like IGI. Officials insisted that new standard operating procedures for all the airports were required to deal with potential threats.

They added that due to involvement of multiple agencies in civil aviation security, a clear chain of command was required to thwart a possible aerial attack.

Talking about VVIP security, the CISF DG said considering the increasing role of the central force in this domain, it has sought more manpower as the existing number of personnel were not “considerably sufficient.”

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