In an unprecedented security breach, two persons from the border district of Kupwara on Thursday entered the operational areas of the Army and the Indian Air Force (IAF), driving all the way to the Srinagar airport’s tarmac to receive their guests. Although the duo were taken into custody after parking their vehicle beside an aircraft, interrogated and subsequently let off by the police, security and intelligence agencies were worried over the background of one of the guests.

An official communication accessed by The Hindu made it clear that Parvaiz Ahmad Dar of Lachipora and Mudasir Ahmad Mir of Wadipora, Handwara, entered the highest security, ‘Technical Area’, through Rangreth at about 3.00 p.m. This side of the airport has been completely out-of-bounds for civilians, including State government functionaries, and has been strictly for the use of the Army and the IAF, besides VVIPs such as the Prime Minister and the President.

While common entry to the Humhama side (New Airport) is regulated by the Central Reserve Police Force, passage through the Technical Area (Old Airport) is strictly controlled by the Army.

After making an entry in the log, the Army guards retained Mr. Dar’s driving licence and asked him to proceed, advising that the vehicle be checked by a bomb disposal squad inside the operational area. No one at the six barriers and checkpoints on the four km-long highest security corridor bothered to find out how the private car carrying two unauthorised civilians was heading towards the tarmac.

Driving through the IAF operational area of India’s most critical air base, Mr. Dar and Mr. Mir parked the car just 30 yards from an aircraft and walked into the arrival hall from the tarmac side to receive their guests travelling here from Delhi on board a Go Air flight. The anti-hijacking police realised the breach when the two passengers collected their luggage and emerged from the tarmac gate in the company of the two non-passengers.

They were taken into custody and handed over to the Humhama Police Post. After 30 hours of questioning, the four were let off and their vehicle was released. The communication claimed that nothing adverse was found in their antecedents. Mr. Dar and Mr. Mir said they had visited Srinagar airport for the first time and neither of them was aware of its common entry point.

“The matter was not found related to any kind of criminal/subversive intention but created due to unawareness of the driver and his colleague and inefficiency of the Army personnel who permitted the duo to go inside the airport after providing them BDS check slip,” said a report from Deputy SP of Budgam who interrogated the four.

“It has been further found that Army personnel deployed on that side of the airport and the Air Force personnel deployed on the Air Force gate side are taking the matter casually and due to their negligence have created havoc and panic,” the report said.

Abdul Rashid, Superintendent of Police, Anti-hijacking, Srinagar airport, told The Hindu: “We took them into custody after we got suspicious of their movement. We immediately handed them over to the police.” He confirmed that such a security breach had not happened before.

Uttam Chand, SP, Budgam, said the four were let off after the police were convinced that they had not entered the airport area with any intention of disruption or terrorist activity.

Well-placed sources, however, insisted that security and intelligence agencies were worried over the background of one of the passengers. They said Khalid Farooq Bhat of Wadipora, Handwara, was employed at Muscat International Airport in Oman. He and his co-passenger, Mohammad Shafi Bhat, had stayed in New Delhi with Mudasir Majeed Bhat of Wadipora and Javed Ahmad Dar of Lachipora, both doing an aviation course. From Delhi, Javed Dar had telephoned his relatives Mr. Dar and Mr. Mir and asked them to receive Khalid and Shafi at the airport.