Security has been tightened at Ahmedabad International Airport after two separate incidents of possible threats in the past three days raised fears, even as an advisory has been sent by the Centre ahead of Independence Day.
The Sardar Vallabhbhai International Airport has been put on high alert and new security measures implemented to prevent any untoward incidents in the days leading up to August 15.
On Wednesday, police arrested 21-year-old labourer Mizannur Rehman from Assam for carrying a paper cutter inside one of his shoes. He was detained at the security checkpoint, when he was on his way to board an Indigo Flight from Ahmedabad to Guwahati in Assam. Police said Rehman claimed that he had left hurriedly from his rented accommodation in Surat when he came to know that his village in Assam had been flooded. In his hurry, he had allegedly forgotten that he was carrying a paper cutter in one of his shoes.
On Friday, the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel manning the airport nabbed a 25-year-old man for breaching the premises of the airport by climbing one of its walls. The accused has been identified as Soka Singh from Pilibhit in Uttar Pradesh. Police are not revealing much about the profile of the accused even as sources suggest that he might be mentally unstable.
“He climbed the wall around 10 am on Friday when CISF personnel caught him and handed him over to us,” Airport Police station in-charge KC Rathva said. “We have not arrested him yet and he has been taken to a psychiatric hospital at Ahmedabad for mental evaluation.” He added, “Not much is known about the accused at the moment.”
The Union Home Ministry on Friday issued a security advisory to all Indian airports regarding a possible terror threat ahead of August 15, especially since the Union government recently scrapped provisions of Article 370 from the Constitution of India, thereby removing the special status of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, and turned it into a union territory.
After the advisory, Ahmedabad Airport has prohibited entry of visitors into the airport premises and has asked passengers to come on time for proper security checks. The CISF and Police have been deployed in uniform as well as plainclothes to keep a watch. Security agencies have also begun “profiling” passengers; they are asked about the motive of their journey and stay in Gujarat. Sources said mostly it is passengers traveling alone who will be profiled.
“We have asked all our airport staff, apart from police and CISF, who are posted inside the airport premises and at the airplanes to keep a watch on their surroundings and exercise caution,” Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport Director Manoj Gangal said. “They are our eyes and ears and they have been trained to be watchful of activities. We have been able to thwart two attempts (at breaching security) in the recent days due to the diligence of the security agencies.” Gangal added that unlike other airports in India that have asked passengers to reach at least three hours prior to scheduled flight time, they have just asked passengers to report on time and cooperate with the security checks.
Local police said that they too are exercising increased caution in patrolling areas surrounding the airport.
“We have enhanced patrolling and are keeping a watch in areas surrounding the airport. The migrant labourer from Assam (who was caught) has been given bail and we are currently interrogating the other accused,” Airport police station in-charge Rathva said.