Fliers are being subject to increased scrutiny at Mumbai airport, from increased frisking to a more through search of luggage.
After the police said last week that four Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists had entered the city with a view to causing large-scale violence, the airport has become a fortress. Armed guards have multiplied and are checking every second car entering the airport.
“Our brief is to physically search bags even if there is just a shade of doubt,” said an officer of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), requesting anonymity. “We will follow this high-security alert protocol till December 31.”
Queues of annoyed passengers watched as CISF jawans opened their checked-in baggage, about 30 per cent of the total on average. “You can’t just open up bags randomly. We have been questioned by three different persons,” said Akshay Mehta, who going to Kerala with his family. In addition to the usual frisking by security personnel, airline staff is also physically searching passengers before allowing them to board coaches that ferry them to the tarmac.
The CISF has also increased the staff monitoring close-circuit television cameras. This team then tips off the plainclothes patrolling staff if needed.
“We check all the documents of any passenger who we feel is moving around suspiciously,” said an inspector.
The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security has also conducted at least three mock drills this month to test the airport’s security preparedness. Unclaimed passenger luggage has also kept CISF jawans on their toes. Until November 31, the airport has had 174 bomb hoaxes because of such luggage.