India Hijack Threat: Security Stepped Up At All Airports

Code: High Alert

New Delhi, Dec 29
: With the Centre receiving intelligence inputs about terrorists’ plan to hijack a plane or take control of non-functional airports or abandoned airstrips for aerial attack, the CISF has further heightened security at all airports where its personnel are posted. It has also held consultations with state police to beef up the perimeter security.

The civil aviation ministry has also alerted states and UTs over proper security of non-functional airports. CISF, in turn, on Friday briefed home ministry officials about the measures being taken by it.

CISF, an official said, had been on high alert ever since it received intelligence inputs earlier this month suggesting terrorists’ gameplan of using the air route. “The civil aviation ministry has circulated some instructions to all the airports,” home minister P Chidambaram told reporters after the Cabinet meeting on Friday. He, however, did not elaborate.

All airports across the country have been on a state of high alert with civil aviation secretary M Madhavan Nambiar writing to states and UTs to secure all airports and airstrips under their jurisdiction. There are about 340 airports and airstrips in the country, many of them non-functional. A large number of these airstrips are of World War II vintage.

Besides securing the airports, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) have also issued instructions for additional layers of personal and hand-baggage checking before a passenger boards an aircraft.

They have also given directions that the strength of sky marshals be increased and they should be put on more flights, rather than on the already identified sectors like those in Jammu and Kashmir and the North-East.

With Lok Sabha elections nearing and the use of helicopters increasing, the DGCA will soon issue a new set of security guidelines for helicopter operators to report mandatorily to the local police before making landings at any unscheduled place.