A clerical “error” by Indian Official could have triggered a nuclear war with Pakistan

Pakistan F16

By AW Siddiqui

On September 23 2019, two Pakistani fighter jets were dispatched to intercept what looked like an Indian military air craft on their radar screens, intruding Pakistani air space. Fortunately, the Pakistan Air Defense noticed something unusual and decided to check it out, rather than shooting it down.

This unprecedented situation occurred amid tensions between New Delhi and Islamabad, after Balakot air strikes in Februar, and barely a month after Pakistan had reopened its airspace post-Balakot.

The consequence would have been a disaster for Pakistan, but at the same time a huge short term gain for the BJP, the party currently ruling India, winning almost 100% seats in the state elections in Oct/Nov.

Though the long term consequence with India-Pakistan war, which would have almost certainly triggered out of this incident and may have turned into a nuclear war, would have been a disaster for the two  countries, leaving immense casualties on both sides.

A reasonable question here is; was it really a clerical mistake by an official of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the aviation regulator of the Government of India, as claimed by its officials, or a sinister and purposeful action of a dedicated member of BJP/RSS, who thought to give a bit of helping hand to his organisation?

Or was it part of a bigger plan of the BJP/RSS, which has the potential to go to any length, to implement its Hindutva agenda, including getting its own plane shot down by Pakistan, to get all the rage and sympathy it wants from the world, to start a war with Pakistan, to invade Pakistan, in accordance with the grand RSS plan, depicted in ‘Akhand-Bharat’ map in its headquarter in Nagpur?

Considering their grand plan, combined with training and advises it gets from Israel, a country with similar ideology; hatching a scheme like this does not appear totally improbable.

The Incident

According to a report published in Aviation India on October 19, 2019; on the morning of August 30, air traffic controllers at Lahore were startled to find that an “Indian military aircraft” had entered the Pakistan airspace. They were confused because the flight plan and identification by the pilot, it was a civilian plane, but was transmitting a military aircraft code.

Pakistani traffic controllers alerted Pakistan Air Force, which sent two F-16 fighter jets to verify the aircraft. What they found was a SpiceJet passenger plane with 120 passengers on board, on its flight from Delhi to Kabul.

Pakistani F-16 jets flanked the commercial plane and asked SpiceJet pilot to lower its altitude and report to them with the flight details.

The SpiceJet captain briefed Pakistani F-16 pilots saying, "This is SpiceJet, Indian commercial aircraft, which carries passengers and is going to Kabul as per schedule," sources told ANI.

After the confusion was sorted out, the Pakistani fighters escorted the SpiceJet out of Pakistan airspace until they entered Afghanistan air space, confirmed a DGCA official.

The reason for the mistaken identity was alleged to be a clerical error by an official of India’s aviation regulator, which assigned a military code while registering the SpiceJet aircraft. 

Early August; SpiceJet had approached DGCA for registration of the aircraft. According to International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) norms, while registering an aircraft, aviation regulators all over the world assign a unique 24-digit code called Mode-S — a digitised identification number. The alpha-numeric code is relayed by a transponder that can be identified by advance radar surveillance system in order to improve air navigation system and stop airspace incursions.

Sources told ANI that, in this manual process, the concerned DGCA official wrongly assigned the SpiceJet aircraft a code of Antonov AN-32--an aircraft used by the Indian Air Force.

“Incorrect or missing Mode-S code, whether caused by individual equipment malfunctions or human input error, may prevent aircraft from being presented on air traffic controller surveillance displays and, and result in potentially hazardous situations,” a direction by European Union Aviation Safety Agency says.

According to Aviation India, a senior official of India’s air navigation authorities said that normally air traffic controllers work on primary and secondary radar systems, which give details of height, speed and altitude, among others.

Its “Only when there is a heightened surveillance, secondary surveillance radar system is used to track the Mode-S code. Pakistani airspace must be using it for Indian aircraft due to the current situation,” the official said.

There have been several cases when a passenger plane was shot down intentionally, or by mistake.

A relatively recent example was Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur that was shot down on 17 July 2014 while flying over eastern Ukraine, allegedly by pro-Russian rebels using Russiian made Buk surface-to-air missile. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk laid the blame on professional soldiers who came from Russia, while the Russian Government held Ukraine responsible for the crash claiming that Malaysian aircraft was followed by a Ukrainian military jet.

Regardless of who the culprit was, Western world leaders and the western media went over drive to blame Russia, and the consequences would have been overwhelming if it was another country – a weaker country.

SpiceJet incident required PMO to step in, while civil aviation secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola thanked his Pakistani counterpart Sharukh Nusrat for handling the situation calmly.

But that calmness in Pakistani quarters could have been substituted with instructions generated from a computerised war system to shoot the plane down, killing most, if not all the passengers and the crew; and the BJP, with its inherent illusory nature, would have been quick to blame Pakistan with usual rhetoric, gaining all the sympathy it needs from the world, to attack Pakistan, towards fulfilling its Akhand-Bharat dream, and getting all the side benefits such as overwhelming victory in all the four state elections in October/November.

We would probably never know that the mistake by Indian officer was really a mistake as claimed by the Indian officials, or an intentional mistake by a BJP/RSS cadre ‘officer’, to help out his comrades.


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