Patna: Worried over security of VIPs and movement of money in poll-bound Bihar, the Election Commission has written to Civil Aviation Ministry to deploy trained security personnel and baggage scanners at the unguarded state hangar in Patna.
The hangar, used by private operators, can hold about five to six small aircraft and helicopters and is regulated by the Patna Air Traffic Control (ATC). The six-phase polling begins from October 21 in the state and the traffic at the hangar is bound to rise with many prominent leaders using choppers during the election campaign.
A joint team of senior Income Tax and EC officials visited the hangar last month and reported about the absence of any access control mechanism and security at the facility,
with vehicles reaching up to the aircraft on the tarmac to receive or see off the flyers.
The authorities were also concerned there was no way to keep a tab on any movement of money. The EC has now asked the Commissioner of Civil Aviation Security in Delhi to deploy trained security personnel like those from the CISF and install baggage scanners besides sanitising and sealing the entire hangar from "security point of view".
The step comes close on the heels of the EC asking the investigation wing of the I-T department to deploy its sleuths and activate Air Intelligence Units (AIUs) at Patna and Ranchi airports to intercept and check movement of cash meant to bribe voters and used illegally by candidates in their campaigning.
"The unguarded hangar is also a threat to VIPs and other political campaigners who will visit the state for the upcoming polls as there is no control and regulation at the
establishment," sources said. The joint team of officials also found that the hangar
has three entry and exit points and there is no security guard to man them.
The District Magistrate and the Superintendent of Police in Patna deploy security personnel as and when it is required but there has to be a 24X7 mechanism, they said.
It is essential to deploy a police or a CISF unit because as soon as they take over the facility, they will deploy their anti-sabotage resources and keep a check on
The authorities have also asked the Patna ATC to keep an updated roster of operators flying in an out of the hangar.