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Conduct random pat-down searches to detect non-metallic explosives, BCAS tells CISF

By Anvit Srivastava, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAY 28, 2020 11:09 PM IST

One of every five passengers lined up for a security check at the Delhi airport may randomly be asked to step aside for a thorough pat-down by CISF personnel, a recent circular issued by the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) said. Because the CISF is resorting to only contactless frisking, using metal detectors, the latest order will ensure that no “non-metallic explosive” is sneaked into the airport, the circular said.

According to the BCAS circular, accessed by HT, “at least one out of every five persons shall be subjected to pat-down search on a continuous random basis on the reasoned selection and in a consistent manner, particularly to mitigate the threat from any non-metallic explosives (sic).”

The directions were announced as a standard operating procedure (SOP) to be followed while screening passengers at airports as the government resumed flight operations in the country May 25 onwards.

“The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel, who protect the airport, were asked to maintain a safe distance from flyers and use hand-held or door frame metal detectors to frisk them during security checks. They were also directed to tell passengers to put all metallic things in a tray on the x-ray scanner before stepping in for a security check. That tray is to be sanitised after every single use,” a senior officer from the Delhi airport, who wished not to be named, said.

The officer added, however, that there was always a threat of someone trying to sneak in with non-metallic explosives, chemicals, or other harmful weapons that may remain undetected by the metal detectors. “The CISF has therefore been directed to identify suspects randomly, yet reasonably, and ask them to cooperate with a thorough pat-down search,” the officer added.

Another officer privy to the security of the airport said the direction of the BCAS is also strategic because the security plan of the Delhi airport allows one to reach up to the Security Hold Area (SHA) without any scanning or frisking. “If we solely resort to metal detectors, it may create a security loophole. We also have armed plainclothes men inside the terminal to keep an eye on suspects,” the officer said, requesting anonymity.

The latest BCAS order also mentions that if a metal detector raises an alarm because of some metal in a passenger’s shoes, he/she will also have to take the shoes off. It also said that if sealed or otherwise unidentifiable packages are found on any person, they must be checked using x-ray scanners.

A CISF spokesperson said the order issued by the BCAS will be diligently followed.

Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport also resumed its flight operations on Monday with 118 arrivals and 125 departures, however, at least 82 incoming or departing flights had to be cancelled. While a number of passengers were stranded due to cancelled flights, those who boarded the planes, said the security checks were smooth.

The next day on Tuesday, the airport witnessed only 25 cancellations and handled 137 departures and 140 arrivals.

On Thursday there were 147 total scheduled departures with 145 arrivals, while on Wednesday the airport handled 129 departures and arrivals each.

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