Air traffic resumed at the Karipur International airport in Kozhikode on Thursday morning after a 10-hour shutdown caused by a clash between CISF and airport authority personnel that claimed a jawan's life on Wednesday night.
During the shutdown, all flights scheduled to land at the airport were diverted to Kochi.
Union home minister Rajnath Singh said in Delhi that the situation at the airport was under control. “I have sought a report from the CISF director general. We will take strong action to avert such a situation in future,” he said.
The civil aviation ministry has ordered a high-level probe into the incident. The CISF (Central Industrial Security Force) jawan was killed after a scuffle with an official of the fire department of the Airport Authority of India (AAI).
The jawan had reportedly asked AAI official Sunny Thomas to undergo an elaborate security procedure, which led to a verbal spat between the two that soon escalated into a violent clash between security and airport authority personnel. The jawan received gunshot injuries and died.
Thomas said he had gone to the airport to take an injured colleague to hospital when he was attacked by CISF personnel. "I was kicked and beaten up. They threatened to shoot," he said.
There are around 150 AAI employees posted at the airport, of which 40 are with the airport fire service.
The airport authority employees' union claimed excessive frisking by CISF staff led to the clash. "Checking everyone is routine. But when the AAI personnel entered the airport, apart from normal frisking they were asked to open their lunch boxes and remove their belts, which led to an argument and then a heated exchange of words," a spokesman for the employees' union said.
The state government constituted a special investigation team to probe the violence. Police arrested 15 people, including five CISF personnel and airport employees. Police personnel were deployed inside the airport to prevent a repeat incident.
The runway was blocked by the airport staff following the clash, which led to a disruption in flights. The runway was cleared on Thursday morning and a flight from Sharjah landed at the airport.
Kerala home minister Ramesh Chennithala said the situation had been restored to normal. Minister of state for home affairs Kiran Rijiju termed it a serious security lapse. “It is a serious issue. We will take strong action once we get a report in this regard,” he said, adding a clearer picture would emerge after analysis of CCTV footage.