The government has made the final policy push to bring all civil airports in the country under the cover of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), in view of “threats” to national security from possible terror attacks and hijack bids.
The Union home ministry, official sources said, has recently prepared a comprehensive note for the consideration of the proposal by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the home, defence, finance and external affairs ministers as its members. The note is expected to be taken up at the next CCS meeting, they added.
Of the 98 functional airports in the country, 59 are under the armed security cover of the paramilitary CISF, leaving out 39. Of the 26 “hyper-sensitive” airports, 20, including the ones in Mumbai and Delhi, are under the CISF cover while six, including the Srinagar airport in Jammu and Kashmir, are not.
The remaining airports are under other security forces like the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the India Reserve Battalions (IRBs) or state police units Of the 56 “sensitive” airports, 37 have the CISF cover, while amongst the 16 “normal” airports, only four have the CISF security.
The cabinet note prepared by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has been accessed by PTI and it reasons that all the civil airports in the country need to be brought under a uniform CISF cover as the lack of such a system can jeopardise and pose “threats to national security” by terrorists and other such elements.
The note, the sources said, was prepared after taking inputs from the Civil Aviation Ministry, the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS), the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the CISF.
Once the cabinet approved the proposal, the CISF would take about two years to complete the process of taking charge at all the remaining airports, they added The note also talks about creating a unified command of security, where all the airports in the country will be on a “single platform of action, on a real-time basis”, whenever required.
A report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture had last year expressed its concern over the lack of a uniform security cover at various airports in the country. It had said it was scary to know that the security of some of our hyper-sensitive and sensitive airports were not covered by the CISF, which was the only specialised force for aviation security. The home ministry had, only yesterday, accorded sanction to the CISF to deploy 600 commandos to guard the soon-to-be operational Kannur international airport in Kerala. The force is also in the final stages of taking over the task of security at the airports in Vijayawada (Andhra Pradesh) and Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh).
The CISF has a special Aviation Security Group (ASG) for this task and it has recently deputed two inspector general (IG) rank officers — one for the northern zone and one for the southern zone — to look after the airports’ security across the country. The CISF was first tasked with airport security in 2000, beginning with the Jaipur airport, in the aftermath of the hijack of Indian Airlines flight IC-814 and its last induction took place at the Diu airport in 2011.