‘Indian ploy to legitimize what they have been doing informally for the past 10 years’
By Saroj Raj Adhikari
The secretariat of Nepal’s Security Council has advised the government not to allow India put sky marshals in their planes flying out from Kathmandu. The secretariat that takes stock of security issues before providing any advise to the Cabinet recommended against deploying sky marshals on Wednesday (January 27). to the Prime Minister’s Office, Defense Ministry and Home Ministry. According to a source at the PMO, the secretariat suggested that allowing India deploy sky marshals could have lasting impact on issues related to nationalism. The secretariat had termed the Indian proposal ‘interventionist approach’ on the eve of Prime Minister’s visit to India a few months ago.
“The Indian proposal seems to have come to provide legitimacy to the informal checking done by Indian security personnel on planes flying out from Kathmandu to India for the past ten years,” the secretariat had said six months ago in its ‘special analysis’ (number 337, dated: 27 Shrawana). The secretariat, coordinated by Defense secretary, includes a General from Nepal Army as assistant coordinator. Another General from the Army along with Director of National Investigation Department and DIGs from Nepal Police and Armed Police Force are the members of the secretariat.
Cabinet discussed about the mater yesterday, the same day secretariat gave its recommendation. According to Import minister Rajendra Mahato, Home Minister Bhim Rawal put forward the subject for discussion. The Indians are trying to deploy sky marshals in their planes flying in South Asia citing ‘latest intelligence reports’ that feared hijacking of Indian planes.
Tourism minister Sharad Singh Bhandari opined that the issue of deploying sky marshals should not be associated with sovereignty. Stressing that Nepal was a member of International Civil Aviation Organization that has the provision of sky marshals if two concerned member nations agree on the issue, he said: “This can’t be associated with national sovereignty. If any country proposes to deploy sky marshal citing security of its planes, we can agree on that by conducting required procedures.”
Home Minister Rawal said India has been insisting on deploying sky marshals for a long time. “They do not want any obstruction to the Commonwealth Games that they are organizing in September,” he said.
The Central Security Coordination Committee must decide, with the approval of Home Ministry, on the issue of allowing a foreign country deploy sky marshals in planes coming in to Nepal.
A source at the Home Ministry claimed that India has been secretly deploying sky marshals in its planes immediately after the hijacking of New Delhi-bound IC 814 in December 1999, a view shared privately by some security analysts in India. Apart from that, India got permission from the Maoist-led government to frisk passengers boarding its planes at Kathmandu airport with the help of portable x-ray scanners unlike what has been reported in some Indian newspapers.
[Nepali version of this article appeared in today’s Kantipur daily.]