IB, ATS probe sighting of unidentified paragliders

Repeated spotting of unauthorised and unidentified gliders in Pune airspace, from June to December last year, is being probed by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Maharashtra state Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) keeping security in view.

Newsline had reported that Indian Air Force (IAF) authorities had asked Pune police to look into an incident on December 25 in which five to six unidentified paragliders were spotted by a helicopter. A senior ATS officer said, "We are looking into these from the security point of view. We are in contact with investigating agencies and defence authorities. We have started gathering information."

IB sources confirmed they were looking into the matter.

Internationally acclaimed paraglider Eric Menezes said, "This once again highlights the fact that there is no framework for this sport. When we approach IAF authorities for permission to fly, they refuse. Local police say they cannot issue such permission. That does not make flying activities a threat to security."

According to the IAF, unidentified gliders were spotted on June 29, June 30, December 9 and again on December 25. The public relations officer of the IAF station said in a statement, "Nothing substantial has been established as of now in reference to spotting of unidentified glider-like objects over Pune on June 29 and June 30. Inquiries made with Baramati and Hadapsar confirmed that no gliders had operated from there on these days. For detailed investigations, local police and IB were approached. They are yet to communicate their findings."

The statement added, "Similar incidents of sighting powered paragliders were informed by a helicopter pilot flying to Baramati on December 9. Another helicopter flying from Alibagh to Arki (in Baner) on December 25 also reported sighting of 5 to 6 paragliders in restricted airspace. Investigations at our end revealed that paragliding activities are undertaken from Kamset by temple pilots and paragliding schools located there. Local police have been informed about these unauthorised flying activities and requested to investigate and take necessary action."

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