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Louder security siren wails at Indian airports.

AIR travellers face stricter frisking and baggage screening at domestic airports with antihijacking and anti- sabotage teams put on maximum alert after the ' role' of an international terrorist link was not ruled out in the mysterious crash of the Malaysian airliner.

Passports and tickets are being scrutinised more closely as, at least, two passengers who boarded the Malaysian plane were travelling on stolen passports and could have been terrorists.

Security agencies are on guard against the possibility of a similar move in Indian airspace.

According sources, the Union home ministry has alerted the civil aviation ministry, which in turn has instructed airlines to be on full alert and maintain maximum check of passengers, services and logistics.

More vigilance

Domestic carriers have been instructed to ensure that luggage is thoroughly checked and tickets and identity are properly matched. They have been told to advice aircrew to be more vigilant in the aircraft as well.

Air India chairman and managing director Rohit Nandan said that the national carrier has spruced up its security. The Central Industrial Security Force ( CISF)-- entrusted with the task of guarding domestic and international airports-- has been asked to increase vigil. T he additional director general of CISF's Airport Security, O. P. Singh, said besides stepping up security, other loopholes have been fixed.

However, security at smaller airports continues to be of concern as they lack modern surveillance equipment.

Among the measures recommended for security personnel are stringent secondary security checks at ladder points of aircraft, increased whole- body search of passengers and physical checks of cabin baggage, increased random screening at entry points to terminal buildings, enhanced surveillance at the terminal building and guarding and strict access control to aircraft on the ground.

CISF is looking for some state- of- the- art gadgets like alarm- emitting CCTVs. According to sources, Indian security agencies are also wary of the threat by the Indian Mujahideen ( IM) to hijack an aircraft to release its founder Yasin Bhatkal in January.

" Though we don't have very strong reasons to link the Malaysian carrier mishap with the threat by IM to hijack an Indian carrier to release Bhatkal, one thing is certain that Islamic extremists have been very active both in India as well as Malaysia. And we cannot let our guard down,'' a government official said on condition of anonymity.

" Recent inputs are indicative that IM operatives may plan a hijack or forcible intrusion at uncategorised, smaller airports to demand the release of Yasin Bhatkal," said the first alert sent to airport operators across India by the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security in January.

" Entry of visitors to airports should be restricted and sale of visitor entry tickets shall be banned from January 20 to 31," the alert added.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Mar 11, 2014
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