Threat to hijack Air India plane, security tightened at airports

Mumbai: Security in and around India’s busiest airport – the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) – as well others around the country has been tightened following a threat to hijack an Air India aircraft, official sources said here on Saturday.

The threat came in a telephone call to the AI Operation Control Centre at Mumbai Airport late on Friday night, warning that an Indian Airlines (part of Air India) flight would be hijacked to Pakistan.

“It has been classified as a ‘non-specific threat’, but we have taken it seriously, in view of the current situation. Since it has not given details of any particular flight that may be targeted, we presume it can apply to any Air India flight anywhere in the country,” a top official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told IANS.

Early on Saturday morning, all agencies concerned held a meeting and later the Director General, Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) directed the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), which guards airports around the country, and all airlines to implement enhanced security measures with immediate effect.

The BCAS directive, issued through its Deputy Director Operations 2, New Delhi, said that all aircraft operators shall adopt eight specific measures, intended to ensure security of flights and passengers.

The directive has asked the CISF’s Airport Security Unit and Aviation Security Group and other agencies to maintain strict access control to regulate entry to terminal buildings, all operational areas and other aviation facilities.

There is to be enhanced screening of passengers, staff and visitors including extra random screening at the main gate, of hold baggage, cargo, cargo terminal, catering, mails, etc, and ramping up of surveillance – both through CCTVs and manual – in and around the terminal building and operational areas, besides strengthening of Quick Reaction Team and perimeter patrolling.

They have been asked to undertake intensive checking of vehicles entering the car parking area to preclude the possibility of car bomb attacks.

The directive also sought strengthening the manning of all cargo gates and vehicle entry gates with strong armed support and any other security measures based on local intelligence inputs.

CISF Additional Inspector General of Police Hemendra Singh told IANS that the paramilitary force was already been on high alert in wake of the Pulwama attack and after this alert, it had further increased its vigil.