Government on Friday decided to make the anti-hijacking law more stringent by approving amendments to include death sentence as a punishment and powers to shoot down a hijacked plane intended to be used as a missile to hit vital installations. The Union Cabinet, at a meeting headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today, approved these changes for being incorporated in the Anti-hijacking Act of 1982.
A Group of Ministers headed by Home Minister P Chidambaram had earlier examined the proposals to amend the existing law to include these aspects as well as the conspiracy to hijack an aircraft.
The new policy, which is likely to be included in the amendment, seeks to provide a legal backing for extraordinary move like shooting down an aircraft whose hijack has been established and the hijackers intend to target vital installation by using it as a missile like what had happened in New York on September 11, 2001. The policy also provides for immobilisation of the plane and disallowing it to take off if the hijack occurs on the Indian soil.
During the Kandahar hijack in December 1999, 178 passengers and 11 crew members were exchanged for four dreaded terrorists, including Maulana Masood Azhar who later floated the terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) in Pakistan. At that time, security forces had failed to immobilise the plane when it had landed at Amritsar airport. PTI