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Locally produced power banks trigger IED scare at airports, govt takes note

The ministry of home affairs has asked state police forces to take action against locally produced power bank manufacturers, while ordering states and Union territories to issue public advisories that create awareness about the usage of modified devices.

india Updated: Nov 22, 2017 10:37 IST
Azaan Javaid
Azaan Javaid
New Delhi, Hindustan Times
Airport security,Power bank,Locally produced
According to ministry of home affairs, situations causing alarm have been reported from various airports during screening of locally produced power banks.(Reuters file)

After more than two-dozen security scares at airports across the country, the Union ministry of home affairs (MHA) has asked state governments to issue an advisory against carrying locally produced power banks while travelling by air.

According to the ministry, situations causing alarm have been reported from various airports across the country during the screening of such devices. The scanned image of power banks is very similar to that of an improvised explosive device (IED).

The ministry has observed that such power banks use putty, a clay-like substance, to give more weight to the device.And even though the clay-like substance is not classified as an explosive, authorities believe it can be used by “anti-national elements”.

The ministry has asked state police forces to take action against manufacturers, while ordering states and Union territories to issue public advisories that create awareness about the usage of modified devices.

The ministry of civil aviation, railway board, bureau of civil aviation, central industrial security force and the commissioner of Delhi police have also been informed about the situation.

A power bank is a battery device that can be electrically recharged.It serves as a portable charger for electronic devices like mobile phones, tablets, laptops. In India, a “desi” solution seems to have drawn the MHA’s attention.

According to the ministry, on 28 occasions the modified power banks gave a scanning image of an IED when put through the scanners at the airports. As a result, red flag was raised and the passengers owning the device had to be held back for questioning.

Out of the 28 instances, seven were found to be genuine, while the rest were disposed of and passengers allowed to go without any case getting registered. This, however, might change soon.

“These modified power banks are locally made with normal battery, a circuit and a putty to fill the cavity and to make it heavy. During screening, the scanned image looks liked an IED and the electronic circuit creates more panic,“ reads an MHA direction.

The MHA further said, “Although the clay-like substance inside the power bank is not an explosive, there are possibilities that anti-national elements/terrorists can use it to further their malafide intentions at airports”.

A senior government official told HT that the substance can be used to conceal small- to medium-sized weapons.

Ankush Johar, director, Infosec Ventures, a private company specialising in telecom and cyber security, attributed the usage of locally made power banks to their low cost.

First Published: Nov 22, 2017 10:37 IST