Brussels attack puts spotlight on chinks in security at Indian airports

The terror attack on Brussels on Tuesday has put a spotlight on chinks in the security apparatus at airports in India.

The attack comes barely three months after a Parliamentary Standing Committee flagged off concerns about gaps in security at airports in India which included inadequate CCTV coverage in terminals, presence of slums and non-deployment of Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel in certain sensitive airports.

While the security at all airports in the country has been heightened following the Brussels incident, there is no plan to carry out security check of passengers and their bags outside terminal buildings. At present, passengers are frisked before accessing terminal only in Srinagar.

The idea of frisking passengers outside terminals was first examined after the attack on the Indian Parliament, but has not been implemented following a review. It was felt that this practice could lead to long queues outside the terminals during rush hours and would mean passengers reporting much earlier for their flights.

“Surveillance can be enhanced with more personnel in uniform and plain clothes. Sniffer dogs can be deployed and staff trained in intelligence and passenger profiling. These measures can help in enhancing security to a large extent, but are not fool proof," said aviation security expert P Mohanan.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee, in its report submitted in December, had highlighted lack of co-ordination between the Delhi police and airport authorities and issue of encroachments in periphery of Mumbai airport.

During the committee’s visit to the Delhi airport, the Delhi police flagged 12 areas of gaps to the committee including inadequate CCTV coverage, lack of space for Aerocity police post, insufficient fencing around Terminal 3 of the airport and the risk posed by three adjoining villages

The Committee also observed that eight "hyper sensitive" airports and 18 "sensitive" airports did not have CISF cover.

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