Defence and high security establishments in Gujarat went into a heightened state of alert as hostilities increased on the Indo-Pakistan border following the abrogation of Article 370 and a bill to split Jammu and Kashmir into two Union territories. Security was beefed up at all airports, including the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport at Ahmedabad.
In order to review the operational preparedness of the frontline airbases of the Indian Air Force (IAF), Air Marshal HS Arora AVSM ADC, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, South Western Air Command (SWAC), visited those located in Gujarat and Rajasthan on Friday.
The SWAC chief also reviewed the security arrangements of the airbases near the international border with Pakistan. “The visit gains significance in view of ongoing security scenario,” stated an official statement from the Ministry of Defence.
Air Marshal Arora emphasised on greater cooperation with other military, paramilitary and police forces for enhancing the level of deterrence. During the visit, he flew various combat aircraft deployed at these bases in envisaged operational profiles to check out the environment and proficiency of the crew.
Airport director Manoj Gangal told The Indian Express, “Visitors’ entry has been prohibited inside the airport. The Police and Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) will be present at the airport in uniform as well as in plain clothes. We have also started the process of passengers’ profiling where we will ask them different types of questions regarding their flight to understand their psychology. We have asked passengers not to get delayed and they should cooperate with the security check procedure carried out by the personnel”.
Even domestic fliers were advised to come in three hours in advance to the airport. The Gujarat government on Friday asked the police to remain alert and enhance security to thwart any unwarranted situation in the state during Eid-ul-Adha on August 12 and Independence Day on August 15, officials said.
Gujarat Chief Secretary J N Singh along with state DGP Shivanand Jha on Friday held a video-conference with top police officials, including police commissioners, district SPs and Range IGs, of the state to brief them about various security measures they are required to take during the upcoming festivals. A senior police officer said the focus of the meeting was to increase vigil and keep a close watch on the movements near the border.
“Various heads of police have been instructed to enhance security measures and remain alert during Eid and Independence Day. We were also instructed to increase patrolling, keep watch on suspicious movements and check vehicles,” said the officer, who attended the video conference, on condition of anonymity.
He said Singh and Jha also stressed on strengthening local intelligence sources to get first-hand information about the suspicious people. While most of the instructions were meant for the entire state, some of them were also given to the SPs and Range IGs of those districts which are along the coastline and near the Indo-Pak border.
Bordering districts, as well as those along the coastline were asked to remain extra alert as drug peddlers use those routes to smuggle narcotics into the state.
“To get first-hand information about the suspicious movements in the sea, police have been asked to remain in touch with the fishermen,” the officer said.
(With PTI inputs)