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No landing form rule will boost fight against terror

March 14, 2013 14:39 IST

The new rules regarding doing away with disembarkation forms at the immigration counters at airports will save fliers a lot of time, but it will be a major boost for security agencies who are dealing with the massive problem of international terrorism, says Vicky Nanjappa

The bureau of immigration has decided to do away with disembarkation forms. This would mean that the time spent at the immigration counters would automatically come down for flyers. Details of Indians leaving the country and foreigners coming into India will be provided by the airline 15 minutes before departure.

This new advance passenger information system is being introduced from June 1 in India and would be fully functional at all airports by September 2013. The passport details, nature of the visa and even their place of stay will be available with the immigration authorities much before arrival.

Security agencies say that this would be a major boost in controlling crimes and terrorism.

“This is a very ambitious project which was planned two years ago. There is a prescribed format which will be available with the airline which is flying into India and all details regarding the passengers on board will have to be provided 15 minutes before the departure,” said an official.

Once the details are made available to the bureau of information, all the details of the passengers will be scanned. The data would be fed by the National Informatics Centre. In addition, officials from the Intelligence Bureau would also assist. If the agencies have details beforehand, they could easily take any suspicious person for questioning.

“Normally, when there is a rush at the immigration office, some suspects tend to get away. If there are suspicious details of a person on board, then the agencies could get to that person right away. This would not only help detect a crime, but would also save a lot of time for genuine passengers,” added the official.

However the manual scanning process would not be totally done away with. If the record is clean, then the time a passenger spends before the immigration office would be hardly five minutes, as opposed to the 30-odd minutes they spend today.

Security agencies however say that once the details of all the passengers come in, they would begin scanning with the existing data.

“In case there is already someone on the suspect list, they would try and get more details from the country of origin. For this, the help of intelligence agencies would be sought.

“This would also help in detection of cases where persons are travelling with fake passports,” the source pointed out.The other interesting aspect is regarding student visas.

Some cases of students coming in from countries such as Nigeria and Iran have been very suspicious. There have been many cases where drug peddlers from Nigera have come in guise of students. The authorities will have details of the college that a person with a student visa would be attending.

The college authorities have to regularly update the attendance to the authorities and in case there is a shortage, the student would be deported or questioned and detained. It would be presumed that a student who has shortage of attendance has come to India for some other reason.

The authorities say that this could also help curb terrorism since there are persons sent in on a student visa to spread terror-related activities. The college would not only have to provide the attendance but also give the conduct details.

Vicky Nanjappa