The government would take all steps to ensure safety of airports and Indian skies, civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said on Wednesday morning, hours after three suicide bombers killed 36 people at Turkey’s main international airport.
The attack on Istanbul’s busy Ataturk airport , which comes within months of a terror strike at the Brussels airport, has turned the spotlight on the security apparatus at Indian facilities.
“I am deeply shocked and agitated at the terror attack on Istanbul Airport. We stand with Turkey and its citizens in their loss & grief,” Raju tweeted. “It’s our commitment that we will continue to ensure safety and security of Indian airports and skies.”
No Indian carrier flies to Turkey but Turkish Airlines, the national carrier, has regular flights in and out of India.
“No report so far of any Indian among the casualties has been received. Turkish Air flights to Delhi and Mumbai departed Istanbul last night as scheduled. Both leave Istanbul at around 8pm. Ataturk airport operations at Istanbul have resumed but long delays are likely,” a senior government official said.
Security checks had been intensified at all Indian airports, sources said. It is only at Jammu and Srinagar airports that the passengers are frisked and their bags checked before they enter the airport terminal.
While there is no plan to extend the practice to other airports, security drill may be tightened following the Istanbul strike.
“Additional security measures like deploying more security personnel and those in plain clothes outside airports are often implemented to deal with security threats,” an official said, ruling out Jammu-like checks.
“There is hardly any space outside terminal buildings and if we do start doing this the passenger queues would spill over to the road.”
The Mumbai airport also tightened its guard hours after the Istanbul airport attack. Armed personnel manning watch booths at the airport entrances were increased, patrolling populated stretches within the terminal and the waiting areas outside was also escalated, said officials from the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF).
“Such incidents (terror attacks) have become so common that we are on high alert almost throughout the year,” said a senior CISF official requesting anonymity.
In Istanbul, three suicide bombers sprayed bullets and then blew themselves up. One of the attacker opened fire in the departures hall of the airport with an automatic rifle before all three blew themselves up in or around the arrivals hall a floor below, reports said. The attack has been blamed on the Islamic State.