No Indian airport safe, warns IB; Home Ministry orders major security overhaul
No Indian airport can stand Brussels-like terror attack, the Intelligence Bureau warned on Tuesday.
New Delhi: Amid growing concerns over safety of Indian airports, the Intelligence Bureau issued a fresh warning on Tuesday, saying that no Indian airport is fully equipped to stand a Brussels-like terror attack.
The warning holds significance in the wake of reports that India has not accorded specialised CISF security cover to over two dozen of its operational airports owing to lack of funds.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) today ordered a security audit of all airports in the country in the wake of recent attacks at Brussels and Istanbul airports.
The report will be submitted by a multi-agency committee comprising of agencies like Bureau of Civil Aviation Security and Central Industrial Security Force or CISF.
Importantly, the Centre also rejected the Civil Aviation Ministry's proposal for a specialized force called Aviation Security Force for ensuring security at the Indian airports and, instead asked the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) to guard all Indian airports.
A total of 27 functional airports are being secured by other security forces like CRPF, India Reserve Battalions (IRBs) or state police units, keeping the designated aviation security force CISF out.
Earlier this year, a report by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture had expressed its concern, saying it found it ''quite scary to know that the security of eight of hyper-sensitive and 19 sensitive airports are not covered by the CISF which has now become the only specialised force for aviation security."
Nearly 1.42 lakh personnel-strong CISF has a dedicated and trained unit for the task under its establishment called the Aviation Security Group (ASG) and has almost 22,000 men and women commandos in it headed by an Additional Director General-rank officer.
The force was first tasked with airport security in the year 2000, beginning with the Jaipur airport, in the aftermath of the hijack of Indian Airlines flight IC-814 and its last ASG was inducted at Diu airport in 2011.
A report prepared by the CISF and intelligence agencies also echoed similar concerns underlining the need for stepping up security at the airports.
Out of the 26 hyper-sensitive airports in the country like the ones in metro cities of Mumbai and Delhi, 18 are under CISF cover while six like Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir and others are not.
Under the sensitive category there are 56 airports out of which only 37 have the paramilitary's cover and amongst 16 normal airports only four have CISF security.
To sum up, out of the total 98 functional airports in the country, 59 are under CISF cover leaving out 39.
Out of the 59 airports under CISF cover, 53 are operated by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and six by joint ventures or private players.
In the wake of deadly terror attack at Istanbul airport in Turkey, Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju had said that the Government is committed to ensure the safety of Indian airports and its skies.
Since the attack at Brussels Zaventam airport in Belgium, security was beefed up at all major Indian airports.