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To prevent photography of Rafale jets, 3-km police cordon, Sec 144 around Ambala Air Force station

The jets took off from France on Monday and will arrive at the Air Force station on Wednesday, after covering a distance of 7,000 km with air-to-air refuelling and a single stop in the United Arab Emirates.

Written by Man Aman Singh Chhina | Chandigarh | Updated: July 29, 2020 1:10:47 am
Policemen block access to a road leading to Air Force Station in Ambala Cantonment Tuesday. (Express photo)

A day before the much-awaited arrival of five Rafale fighter aircraft from France to Ambala, a security blanket has been thrown around the Air Force Station Ambala by the police, on the request of Indian Air Force (IAF) to prevent any photography and videography of the arrival of the aircraft Wednesday. Further, Section 144 has been imposed in four villages close to the Ambala airbase.

DSP (Traffic), Ambala, Munish Sehgal told reporters that gathering of people on rooftops and photography during landing has been strictly prohibited. The five Rafale aircraft had taken off from Merignac airbase in France Monday en route to Ambala, a distance of around 7,000 km. The aircraft landed in Al Dhafra air base in UAE near Abu Dhabi the same day and are to continue their journey to Ambala Wednesday.

As the print and electronic media journalists made their way to Ambala Tuesday in preparation for the arrival of the aircraft, the latest to join the fleet of aircraft in IAF, they encountered police check posts set up hastily on approach roads to the Air Force Station. Police officials said that they had received requests from IAF authorities to stop people from coming close to the station and also to ensure that no drones were flown at the time of arrival of the Rafales.

The Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal R S Bhadauria, will be present in Ambala Wednesday morning to receive the five aircraft when they arrive.

In Pics | Rafale jets re-fuelled mid-air at 30,000 feet on way to India

Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij told mediapersons in Ambala that the IAF had asked for a three-kilometre cordon to be placed around the air force station and also to ensure that no photographs were taken of the Rafales from the rooftop of the houses adjoining the air force station.

The Public Relations Officer for the Ministry of Defence in Chandigarh said that no media interaction, of any sort, is planned for on the arrival of the Rafales.

“We understand that the event is of national importance and hence, I assure you that timely pictures and videos of the arrival will be made available to all of you,” he said in a message shared on a closed WhatsApp group of select journalists.

A formal induction ceremony of the Rafales has been planned in August.

“The requirement now is to ensure that the pilots and ground crew put their heads down and become integrated with the overall IAF operations at the earliest. Hence, it is in the best interest of the country, the IAF and the crew involved that they are kept away from media glare at the moment,” the statement added.

The statement went on to say that it is essential that the ferry-in of fighters as well as move of support crew is completed safely and swiftly for which the air force station authorities are required to devote their undivided attention to the mission at hand.

A message informed the journalists that, “Photography of military equipment in general and inside a military airfield in particular is punishable as per law.”

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