Attack on city PIA office not for the first time

The ransacking of the Pakistan International Airlines office on Thursday was not the first time the premises on Barakhamba Road have faced vandalism.

In August 2013, Shiv Sena activists had painted the office signboards and glass doors in black.

Then, the Delhi unit of Shiv Sena was protesting against the killing of Indian soldiers and ceasefire violations by Pakistani forces along the Line of Control.

On Thursday, the four Hindu Sena activists went to all the three rooms of the office vandalising furniture, computers and glass panels. They also dismantled the replica of an airplane installed near the reception desk and scattered pamphlets.

“The security provided at the office, including a Delhi Police constable, were taken by surprise as the activists gained entry posing as customers. The security has been enhanced now,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (New Delhi) Jatin Narwal.

Police said the office was a soft target compared to the Pakistan High Commission. Apprehending more violence, the PIA management has sought security.

By the time local police reached the spot, three of the men had fled. Hindu Sena member Lalit Singh was nabbed.

Hindu Sena chief Vishnu Gupta later claimed responsibility for the incident.

“Through this act, the members of our Delhi unit have expressed their anger and sent a message to Pakistan that they should respect our sentiments and keep in mind that we are not weak,” a statement said.

Vishnu himself was arrested in October 2015 after making a call to police control room alleging that beef was being served in the restaurant at Delhi’s Kerala House. An inquiry by Delhi Police had triggered a political controversy.

Based on an initial probe, a case under section 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code and charges under Delhi Prevention of Defacement of Property Act is likely to be registered.

Police have obtained the CCTV footage on the vandalism by Hindu Sena activists.
PIA operates the only flights between India and Pakistan, with a 70-minute flight between Delhi and Lahore on Wednesdays and twice a week between Mumbai and
Karachi.

Most of the customers are Indians visiting family in Pakistan, pilgrims, and participants in conferences.

“PIA started operations to India in 1976 and has been operating from the Barakhamba Road office for nearly a decade,” a PIA staffer told Deccan Herald.

An Enforcement Directorate notice was sent to the airline in November 2014 asking them to close the office. The government says the purchase of the property was unauthorised. PIA claims that they have the clearances.


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