NEW DELHI: State-run-carrier Air India has decided to accord priority to personnel of paramillitary forces in boarding its flights, on lines of the facility given to defence forces-the Indian Army, the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force. The decision has been taken as a mark of honour and respect to Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) for their services to the nation, The New Indian Express has learnt.
The development comes after the Border Security Force (BSF) wrote a letter to Air India, requesting for the facility. The NIE has accessed the response given to BSF by Air India's Chairman and Managing Director Pradeep Singh Kharola. "Thank for writing to us on the very important issue of facilities for the CAPF personnel. At the outset, we would like to acknowledge and appreciate the commendable role of CAPF in national security," states a letter written by Kharola. While conveying Air India's decision to extend the priority boarding facility to CAPF, Kharola has said, "I have great pleasure in informing you that we have decided to extend the facility of priority boarding to CAPF personnel at par with the Armed Forces. I am sure that the facility of priority landing would be a significant acknowledgment of the services rendered by CRPF to the nation."
Air India has been providing concessionary and discounted air fares to the personnel of both armed forces as well as CAPF on its domestic sectors. However, the facility of priority boarding on Air India's aircraft for the serving armed forces personnel was introduced only last year on August 15, the country's Independence Day. The Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) comes under the authority of Ministry of Home Affairs. It refers to uniform nomenclature of seven security forces-- the Assam Rifles (AR), Border Security Force (BSF), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), National Security Guard (NSG), and Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB). The Armed Forces comes under the authority of Ministry of Defence.
Time and again, personnel of CAPF have raised concerns about not being treated on par with armed forces despite working in similar conditions. Personnel from the CAPF receive a small fraction of the hard area allowance given to army personnel they fight shoulder-to-shoulder within difficult service conditions.