Airports put on high alert amidst threat perceptions

Bureau of Civil Aviation Security calls for intensified counter-terrorism measures, entry of visitors to be banned

January 12, 2023 05:51 am | Updated 11:01 am IST - CHENNAI

Passengers waiting for security clearance at Chennai Airport. File.

Passengers waiting for security clearance at Chennai Airport. File. | Photo Credit: Velankanni Raj

The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) has issued an alert calling for intensified anti-sabotage measures at all airports in the country in view of escalated threat perceptions.

According to police sources, a high level of alert has been sounded in view of inputs received from intelligence agencies to step up security at airports. Besides strict access-control measures, the State police have been told to station Quick Reaction Teams at vantage points and enhance patrolling in the vicinity of the airports.

While asking airport authorities to ensure compliance to regulatory guidelines for operations of microlight aircrafts, aero models, unmanned aerial vehicles, drones, power hang gliders and hot air balloons, the BCAS Director-General in a note underlined the need for strengthening anti-terrorism/sabotage checks, the sources said.

Law-enforcing agencies were told to step up vigil at all civil aviation installations such as airports, airstrips, air fields, Air Force stations, helipads, flying schools and aviation training centres to avoid any untoward incident in the run up to the January 26, 2023, Republic Day celebrations.

Visitors banned

As a precautionary measure, airport authorities would ban entry of visitors to airport terminals from January 20 to 30. Intensive checking of vehicles entering airports, close monitoring of non-scheduled aircrafts such as air ambulances, surveillance on ground handling staff and other service providers, tight security arrangements at cargo terminals, parking lots etc., ensuring functioning of Closed Circuit Television network were among other instructions that came into immediate effect, the sources said.

When contacted by The Hindu, a senior police official in Tamil Nadu said heightened security arrangements were already in place following intelligence inputs that Zahran Hashim (who is alleged to have masterminded the Easter attacks in Sri Lanka) module of ISIS which was very active in Sri Lanka was planning to radicalise cadre and launch attacks on vital installations and places of public gathering.

After it emerged that the bomb blasts in Coimbatore and Mangaluru were triggered by suspected ISIS operatives and on the basis of other related information shared by the National Investigation Agency which is probing the cases, security at check-posts on all roads leading to the coastline and inter-State borders were doubled, the official who did not want to be quoted said.

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