Sunday, April 07, 2019

IB and RAW questioned Jet’s funding, were ignored

New Delhi: Jet Airways, which is fighting a battle for survival and is down to operating fewer than 20 of its aircraft daily, had a troubled beginning from the start, with Indian security agencies, including the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), raising questions on the funding that went into giving birth to the airline. In spite of that, Jet flourished and became the largest carrier by passenger market share in the country by 2010, a position it held until 2012 before reaching a situation where it is struggling to stay afloat.

In December 2001, the top brass of the Intelligence Bureau had told the then Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government that it had found substantial evidence to prove that Jet Airways, which was launched in 1993, was being funded by suspicious individuals, including possibly India’s Most Wanted. However, the government decided to sit on the adverse report.

In April 2002, again a 30-page IB report was shared with the Lal Krishna Advani-led Ministry of Home Affairs and the Syed Shahnawaz Hussain-led Ministry of Civil Aviation, detailing the funding pattern of Jet Airways and why the IB believed that Jet Airways was being used as a tool to turn unaccounted for money into white. After going through the report, Hussain at the time had said that all options, including cancelling the licence of the airline, were on the table and the final call on the matter was in the hands of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
However, again the government decided to sleep on it. The Sunday Guardian spoke to two IB officers, who are now retired, but were involved in framing the report. Both of them confirmed that the report had given extensive information about the funding that went into Jet Airways.
Before the April 2002 report, in March 2000, the Ministry of Civil Aviation had written to the Ministry of Home Affairs, seeking security clearance for the directors of Jet Airways. The Ministry of Home Affairs did not give the security clearance until December 2003, as it had found reasons not to give a security clearance. However, as the later development suggests, the permission was given soon after that.
06/04/19 Abhinandan Mishra/Sunday Guardian Live
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