Days after the Pulwama attack, airports across India were put on high alert on Saturday and security agencies asked to check all vehicles entering the car parking areas apart from enhancing security at other critical points in and around the airports, three officials familiar with the development said.
The alert was sounded after a threat call was received at the Air India control room in Mumbai regarding the hijacking of a flight to Pakistan. Following the alert, airlines on some sectors, including those going to Gulf and Pakistan, have been asked to conduct secondary ladder point checks where passengers are checked just before boarding the plane.
“We have strengthened the security at the approach road and vehicles are being slowed down through speed breakers. We have also asked the airlines to start the Secondary Ladder Point Checking (SLPC) just before passengers enter the aircraft. We request the passengers to reach before time as due to multiple layers of security, queues are expected to be longer,” said a senior official of Central Industrial Security Force (CISF).
CISF provides security to 61 of the 100 operational airports in the country.
SLPC is conducted when the threat is at its highest level and passengers have to go through complete frisking just before entering the aircraft.
CISF has formed a ‘sweeping-squad’ and has included staff trained in profiling people. “Their job is to identify suspicious passengers as soon as they enter the airport. The members of this squad have been placed across the airport,” a BCAS official said.
The Bureau for Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) issued an alert on Saturday saying airport operators should start intensive checking of vehicles entering the car parking areas to preclude the possibility of car bombing attacks.
“Soon after the Pulwama arrack, security was intensified at airports but after the alert on Saturday, additional personnel have been deployed at parking and cargo areas. Dog squads and explosive vapour detectors have been deployed in the car parking areas,” said another CISF official.
The BCAS alert has also asked the security personnel to enhance patrolling through quick reaction vehicles.
CISF is also randomly checking vehicles at the approach roads to sensitive airports. Though passengers are always frisked carefully at the security check point, CISF is conducting pat down searches of randomly selected passengers in view of the heightened threat.