The government’s concerns on the security threat posed by paragliders is based, among other factors, on recent intelligence inputs that a Pakistani man acquired two paragliders from Spain last year and took them to Pakistan. This had led agencies to suspect that a terror attack using paragliders was being planned.
Another input shared by intelligence agencies with the government pertained to a paragliding training course alleged Indian Mujahideen operative Dr Syed Ismael Afaque underwent in Goa.
Such inputs have spurred the government’s plans to regulate the use of paragliders in the country. It is now close to finalising security regulations for purchase and operation of microlight aircraft, powered hang gliders, hot air balloons, paragliders and unmanned aircraft systems, sources said. An effective mechanism to track and possibly neutralise paragliders is also on cards, they added.
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In March this year, intelligence agencies reported that Muhammad Umar Gondal, based in Spain, bought a paramotor on May 20, 2014 from a store in the Costa del Sol area where he was staying. What raised suspicions was that Gonal had never flown a paraglider and that he took it to Pakistan on June 30, 2014 where he claimed a VAT refund.
Agencies also learned that Gondal enquired about paragliders at the same store in Spain again in October and in December 2014, but did not make any more purchases. He eventually bought another paraglider from a second-hand market, intelligence agencies told the government.
What also appeared strange was that while Gondal led an affluent life compared to most Pakistanis in Spain, the man who financed his travel — Jaswinder Singh alias Jassa — came from a poor economic background with no job or fixed source of income.
Details from the interrogation of homeopathy doctor Afaque, who who was arrested by Bengaluru police on January 8 for being an alleged supplier of explosives to Indian Mujahideen, also played a part in the threat assessment.
A trainer is learnt to have told police that Afaque had insisted on being trained alone, was curious about tandem gliding and wanted to find out whether paragliders could be flown in Bhatkal.