The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) may be in for a paradigm shift in its approach to aviation security. The specially trained force is responsible for security at as many as 60 airports across the country and has always emphasised the need to improve soft skills to make security checks passenger-friendly and welcoming.
All that may change soon. CISF DG Rajesh Ranjan, citing an “over-friendly” approach as among the reasons for the 9/11 attacks in the US, now plans to temper “friendly smiles” to focus more on its core duty: security. And with the introduction of new technologies such as body scanners and body-worn cameras soon, the CISF is now expected to become more vigilant than friendly.
“We cannot be over-friendly with the passengers because one of the reasons cited as to why 9/11 (the 2001 terror attack on the World Trade Centre in the US) happened… was excessive reliance on passenger-friendly features where security personnel went out of the way to ensure that the passenger is facilitated, thereby compromising on security,” said Ranjan.
He was speaking to reporters Monday ahead of the International Aviation Security Seminar on October 9-10 at Vigyan Bhavan, organised by the CISF.
At the press conference, CISF ADG (Aviation) M A Ganapathy had earlier said that the force was moving from a “Broad Smile System” to “Sufficient Smile System” as focussing on the core area of ensuring foolproof security is more important.
To this, Ranjan added: “So, friendly smiles are good but focus should be on the core duties (of security) that we perform at the airports as also rightly pointed out by the ADG.”
The DG said that the CISF was already working on installing body scanners at all airports to minimise physical frisking, body-worn cameras are being procured, systems are being introduced for express security check of hand baggage, and the trial run of the electronic stamping of boarding passes has already begun at the Hyderabad airport.
According to the DG, the force has to focus on training its human resources in aviation security through screener certification, crisis management and supervisor courses with help from the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS).
CISF personnel are also getting focused training on behavioural analysis from International Consultants on Targeted Security, Europe and the Transport Security Administration with help from the BCAS and the Intelligence Bureau.
The force is also working on installing at all airports more high-quality HD cameras, dedicated CCTV cameras with alternative servers for uninterrupted power backup and video analytics features in the existing surveillance cameras.
By its own admission, the use of fake tickets to enter airports has become a “menace”. Since 2016, the force has detected 290 such cases with numbers rising year on year. The DG said that the CISF was constantly learning from security breaches at airports across the country and that new measures with revised standard operating procedures were being put in place.
He said that the upcoming seminar was an opportunity to share views of eminent experts from all over the world. The seminar will focus on challenges in infrastructure and security as the aviation sector sees exponential growth; emerging trends and new security threats; anti-hijacking and anti-terror mechanism in airports; aviation security training, new technologies and cargo security.
Ranjan also said that he would like security at all airports to eventually come to CISF and this includes the Srinagar airport which is currently under the CRPF. “There have been security audits of the Srinagar airport earlier and the ministry of civil aviation and CISF have agreed that it must come under CISF. But things have not moved on this front yet. We would like to have it under our control,” he said.