Hyper-sensitive Jammu Airport now under 3-tier security ring
14 August 2001
The Daily Excelsior
JAMMU: One of the most hyper-sensitive airports in the Northern India, the Jammu Airport has been brought under three-tier security ring in view of the increasing threat perception from across the border. The airport is hardly at an aerial distance of about six kms from the Pakistan border and is considered as more vulnerable than Srinagar Airport which also falls in the category of hyper-sensitive. In view of the increasing Pak trained Fidayeens’ attacks on the vital installations, security forces, crowded public places and the occurrence of a few massacres recently, the Air Port Authorities of India have further beefed up the security of all the sensitive and hyper-sensitive airports in the country. Special attention has been given towards Jammu and Srinagar which were brouhgt under three-tier security system this week. Director, Airport Authority of India at Jammu, Mr R K Singhla in an exclusive Interview with Excelsior said that keeping in view the increasing threat, elaborate security arrangements have been made with the deployment of sufficient number of well trained personnel from Border Security Force to constitute third security ring around already highly fortified Jammu Airport. All the newly inducted security personnel are commando trained and now are the members of Quick Reaction Teams (QRTs). These are specially trained for the task to perform at the airport as a part of strong anti-hijacking teams. He said earlier there was two-tier security system prevailing at this airport and Central Reserve Police Force and Jammu & Kashmir Police men were mainly looking after the security arrangements here. Two companies of CRPF besides sufficient number of JKP men are deployed and SP Anti-Hijacking Mr Amjad Parvez Mirza is the over-all incharge of the security at the Jammu Airport, he maintained. Responding to a question, the Director said that he was satisfied with the communication system and the modern gadgets installed at the Jammu airport. He however, maintained that some security related problems are being faced as massive expansion work is going on at the airport. A large number of labourers, masons and contractors have been engaged at work. But additional force has been deployed to keep a close watch of the works and incoming and outgoing people at the site. Tokens - temporary I-cards have been provided to each of the labourers and they are engaged at permanent basis. The supervisors have been issued passes and they assist the security men while entry of labourers at work place inside airport in the morning. Proper screening and physical check of the incoming material is also conduced by the securitymen deployed at Cargo gate, he added. Mr Singhla further said that in the expansion project worth over Rs 60 crores, about 450 kanals of land is being acquired.The work would continue some time and the problem will be over when it is completed. The road running along the boundary wall towards Chatha and Pir Baba is also posing a threat to the airport and for this purpose additional security pickets and towers have been erected. Mobile patrols of CRPF have also been pressed into service round the clock along this road and almost all the high points like Water Tanks, tall building have been covered with the deployment. Responding to another question, Mr Singhla said the Flood lights have been installed all along the boundary wall and also in the middle and important points which never put off during night. The jawans manning the towers can keep a watch on inside area and also some portion outside and along the walls. A proposal to provide Night Vision Devices to the securitymen has been sent to the Director General- Commissioner Airport Security, Government of India. But the jawans have been provided with sophisticated weapons fitted with binoculars. SP Airport Security- Anti-hijacking, Mr Amjad Mirza said that in view of the security threat, the parking of public transport has been shifted outside the main gate. The main entry-gate has been closed and a vehicle or an individual is allowed inside only after proper frisking and routine checking alongwith the belongings. The entry of common man and even those who visit airport to receive and see-off guests, has been restricted inside the Main Hall. The idea is just to avoid crowd at the airport.'' We will also appeal the public to cooperate with the security agencies and ensure minimum rush at the airports. More problem is faced when a VVIP or a top political leader arrives and departs. Huge crowd is seen at the airport and sometimes it becomes very difficult to manage the security,'' he maintained. In response to a question, Mr Mirza said that regular patrols all along the boundary walls towards Chatha, Pir Baba and other areas have been deployed. The height of boundary walls has been increased from 7 feet to 8 feet with additional one and half feet barbed wire fencing atop as per international standards and AAI rules.'' We are responsible for only anti-hijacking duty including security of entry, exit and the Cargo gates. The services of X-Ray machines, metal detectors and other most advanced gadgets are being taken to have fool-proof security arrangements. But during flight times, additional precautions are taken and entire teams are put at maximum alert,''he added. When asked about the presence of any special anti-hijacking team for contingency purpose as happened at Amritsar Raja Sansi Airport during hijacking of Indian plane from Kathmandu last year, the SP said a contingency plan already exists here and a committee for the same has been formed. SP Anti-Hijacking Jammu, Director Airport Authorities, some senior Air Force officials, Divisional Commissioner, Station Commander AIR Force and SSP Jammu are also the members of this committee. The committee is prepared for all possible contingencies. The main operation during such contingency is carried under supervision of Air Force experts. The Air Force is competent enough in all respects to deal with such situations. Former SP Airport and SP South Jammu, Mr J L Sharma when contacted said that as per the security outside the airport is concerned, additional securitymen have been engaged in the areas around Jammu Airport. Mobile patrols along the boundary wall, near Pir Baba area and towards Old Satwari and Dairy Farm have been pressed into service. General alert has been sounded in view of the I-Day and some additional security check points have been raised in these areas in view of the increasing threat. He pointed out that the Jammu Airport being closer to the Pakistan border is more vulnerable as any other in the country. Commissioner, Bureau of Civil Aviation Securities, Mr Veerana Aivalli reviewed the security arrangements last year during his two day stay here and a proposal to cover the entire ‘funnel area’ where plane flies very low while landing and take off over Jammu areas, has been sent to the Government of India though DIG Jammu. For this purpose, six additional companies of para-military forces are required and some points in Tawi island area, Satwari, Chatha, Talab Tillo, Roopnagar, Maha Maya forests have been identified to have security pickets with modern gadgets and specialised weapons. The proposal is said to be under active consideration of Ministry of Civil Aviation, he added.