Hyderabad: Sixty-one Indian airports under the cover of the Central Industrial Security Force are on ‘high red alert’ following the recent bomb scare reported in Mangalore. Over 35,000 personnel have been pressed in to keep an eagle’s vigil over the operations at these airports.
Besides the security layers, the CISF has also deployed teams from anti-hijacking, anti-terror and anti-sabotage squads at all airports. These specialised units are empowered to carry out random frisking and checks if they find anything suspicious.
Beefing up security at airports ahead of the Republic Day has been a usual practice for the central forces for decades. However, this year, besides January 26th, the blanket cover is a result of the Mangalore incident.
The Bengaluru police on January 22 arrested one Aditya Rao (35) for allegedly planting a low-intensity Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in an unattended bag at the Mangalore International airport. The bomb was detected and disposed of in an exercise that lasted for hours, resulting in a panic-like situation. The arrest followed 24 hours into the investigation.
A senior CISF official told NewsMeter, “At Shamshabad airport, 2,000 CISF personnel are deployed. Besides the usual frisking, passengers must cooperate when an official asks one to step aside. Don’t carry prohibited articles in the baggage, this will only increase the checking time."
The CISF along with 23 government stakeholders, which include the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, officials with the Airport Authority of India, Bureau of Civil Aviation and Customs, have tightened their manual frisking for air travellers.
This apart, private airline operators have also been asked to carry out a separate round of checks. “Passengers may find increased checking, with local police and sniffer dog squads around the four court area [city side] and at the apparel [airside] of the port. Flyers must operate with the staff if they are asked to remove their belts, garments embedded with metal. They are also advised to carry a hard copy of the ticket as it may come handy in case the CISF staff refuses to accept the soft copy”, said a top CISF official.
Currently, there are 100 operational airports in India of which 61 are under the CISF cover. The Delhi airport witnessed the highest air traffic in 2018-19 followed by Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru and Kolkata airports. In the case of the Rajiv Gandhi International airport, Hyderabad, the air traffic grew to 20 million in 2018-19. According to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Hyderabad’s air traffic has grown by 15 per cent