Vakola resident Rajnish Gandhi wanted to visit his son, a student in Bangalore on Thursday. But he cancelled the trip fearing a law and order problem because of the Allahabad High Court’s verdict on the disputed land at Ayodhya.
“My son suggested I defer the trip by a few days,” said the pharmaceuticals wholesaler.
The 50-year-old was amongst many anxious air passengers across the city who put their travel plans on hold.
“About 10 to 15 per cent of air travellers deferred their travel plans in view of the Ayodhya verdict. They expected some sort of trouble and did not want to take a chance,” said Rajesh Rateria, western region chairman of the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI). He added that both, frequent fliers and occasion travellers, are being watchful.
The usually choc-a-bloc domestic terminals at Mumbai, the second busiest airport in the country, looked relatively empty on Thursday.
Airport staff said check-in counters and security holds had shorter queues even during the morning peak hours. “It was almost like a Sunday, a lull without the bustle of a weekday,” said a terminal officer requesting anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) deployed additional staff on the road leading to the airport entrance. The paramilitary force that guards the airport cancelled weekly holidays for staff and deployed non-operational staff.
The security beef-up was done anticipating sporadic alerts common on such sensitive days. The airport, along with major train and bus stations, is considered a vital installation on such days.
At the airport, the situation was under control barring one case of unclaimed baggage that triggered a minor panic. At around 6.30 pm, CISF officials found an unattended baggage inside the domestic terminal. The Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad found cash worth Rs 2.74 lakh in the bag.