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High alert at Mumbai, Hyderabad and Chennai airports after hijack threat

CISF Director General O.P. Singh said that the security apparatus at the airports has been put on “an enhanced alert and protocols have been stepped up.” File photo

CISF Director General O.P. Singh said that the security apparatus at the airports has been put on “an enhanced alert and protocols have been stepped up.” File photo   | Photo Credit: PTI

Three international airports at Mumbai, Hyderabad and Chennai were put on high alert on Sunday after the Mumbai police received an e-mail on Saturday night about a possible hijack attempt at these airports.

“An e-mail was received from an unidentified woman from Hyderabad, that claimed that a group of 23 people were going to hijack aircraft from Mumbai, Hyderabad and Chennai airports. Special airport security committee meetings were held at airports and all concerned were alerted for strengthening preventive measures outlined by the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS),” a senior Civil Aviation Ministry official said.

Senior police officials told The Hindu that the e-mail sent from ununn0801@gmail.com was received by Mumbai police’s DCP-operations, Ashok Dudhe. “The unidentified woman wrote that what she had heard could be true or untrue, but she chose to inform the authorities as she felt it was her duty to do so as a citizen. The e-mail ended with a line that read, “Don’t try to find me because you won’t be able to,” a senior officer said.

CISF public relations officer, Manjit Singh said they were carrying out proper passenger checks, baggage scanning, pre-embarkation checks, secondary ladder point checking and patrolling at the three airports to thwart any possible hijack attempt.

Special anti-sabotage sweeps were carried out at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Chennai International Airport and Hyderabad’s Rajiv Gandhi International Airport since late Saturday night following the e-mail. The agencies were requested to take measures ensured during high alert period of Independence Day or Republic Day.

Vigil at airports

Security at Chennai International Airport has been stepped up with a seven-tier security in place.

Gates at both Kamaraj Domestic Terminal and the Anna International Terminal in Chennai have restricted entry of visitors, and airlines have been instructed to thoroughly check passengers’ luggage — including hand luggage. Additional CRPF men have been posted on duty all over the airport premises. Security men with AK-47 conducted thorough checks at all places inside the airport.

A Mumbai International Airport Ltd. (MIAL) spokesperson said that the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) laid down was being followed and necessary initiatives were being taken. “Though additional checks are being carried out, there have not been any significant delays,” the spokesperson said.

Nothing to panic

The CISF has also pressed into service its sniffer dog squads and quick reaction commando teams for undertaking sanitisation drills at the airports, the officials said, even as the airlines have been asked to remain extra vigilant.

“However, there is no reason to panic and all the operations at these airports will be conducted as normally as possible so that passengers don’t face any problem,” senior officers at Mumbai and Chennai airport said.

ATC officials said there was an average 5 minute delay with 19% of total flights being late. The Federation of Indian Airlines (FI) said that its member airlines were working in close co-ordination with the security agencies.

“There was unprecedented security in place. It was scary but it also made us feel safe,” Sonam Shah, who was flying from Mumbai to Delhi with her family said. Ms. Shah said that passengers with less number of hand baggages would be inconvenienced the least as they were being scanned minutely.

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Printable version | Aug 8, 2020 11:52:09 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/high-alert-at-mumbai-hyderabad-and-chennai-airports-after-hijack-threat/article18071092.ece

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