Indo-Bangla Flights: Indian carriers to get armed sky marshals

India wants to deploy “armed sky marshals” on flights of Indian carriers between India and Bangladesh. In a letter to the foreign ministry, the Indian High Commission in Dhaka expressed this wish. It also sent a copy of the letter to the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh seeking approval. Plainclothes sky marshals are mainly deployed in civilian aircraft to counter hijack attempts and prevent hostage situations.

CAAB Chairman, Air Vice-Marshal M Naim Hassan said, “We are taking necessary measures to this effect.” Group Capt Abdullah Al Farooq, Director of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport where 29 foreign carriers operate, said currently only Saudi Arabian Airlines uses security personnel [armed sky marshals] on its flights to and from Dhaka. “Deploying armed sky marshals inside aircraft is the decision of the carriers,” he said, adding that the operators deploy the marshals to ensure the security of their passengers.

The Indian High Commission in the letter proposed a delegation of National Security Guard (NSG) visits Bangladesh to discuss the deployment of the marshals. It asked the foreign ministry “to indicate a convenient date for the meeting at the earliest”. As per Indian media reports, sky marshals are handpicked from the NSG commandos. The commandos are specially trained in dealing with hijack and hostage situations. They carry guns with rubber bullets, tasers, and handcuffs.

Security at airports and aircraft was beefed up after 9/11 and deployment of sky marshals expanded significantly. The Indian High Commission sent the letter 14 days after Polash Ahmed, with a toy gun, allegedly attempted to hijack a Biman flight to Dubai. He was killed after a commando operation into the Boeing 737 on the tarmac of Shah Amanat International Airport.