An intelligence report on a group of terrorists, including women fidayeen (suicide attackers), entering India on a terror mission caused a scare across the aviation sector, prompting the government to step in. The government has now scaled down security alert.
The home ministry said the alert was being reassessed because it could not be substantiated, a civil aviation ministry spokeswoman said on Thursday evening.
The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) told all airports that the alert sent out earlier, that led to panic, could be stepped down.
The BCAS alert, based on intelligence inputs received last month, had indicated that around 20 fidayeen, including six trained to fly planes and women, had entered the country.
The home ministry’s decision to reassess the alert came hours after Union Home Minister P Chidambaram dismissed the news reports. “Much of that story is not true,” he told mediapersons.
“There is no need for any panic. There is no need for any alarm,” Chidambaram said.
A ministry spokesman later went on to emphasise that the government was committed to enhancing national security and the ministry had taken steps in this direction.
The Central Industrial Security Force also sent out a similar reassuring message to travellers, saying security at the Indira Gandhi International Airport was already on maximum alert.
N P S Aulakh, director general of the National Security Guard , country’s elite anti-terror commando force, said the force was in a state of high alert to meet any eventuality in view of the perceived security threats and general alert issued to airports.
Chidambaram as well as other home ministry officials, however, sad the deteriorating security environment in India’s neighbourhood did call for the need to be alert and vigilant.
For instance, the BCAS had analysed inputs on security threats to some airports, particularly in the south, and advised all state governments to step up security at abandoned airstrips and helipads.
BCAS chief R P R N Sahi had even inspected the Thiruvananthapuram airport to take stock of security arrangements.
Punjab Chief Secretary Ramesh Inder Singh said they, too, had acted on the BCAS alert on abandoned airstrips and taken all measures to safeguard them.