NEW DELHI: Calling for bolstering aviation facilities, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday said terrorists are pushing their “limits” to attack global civil aviation operations.
“The civil aviation sector is highly sensitive and high profile in nature. It also gets worldwide attention when hit by any attack. Often these incidents have geopolitical ramifications,” Singh said after inaugurating a two-day seminar on ‘international aviation security’ in New Delhi.
“The case of the shoe bomber in 2001, the use of liquid explosives in London in 2006 and the case of the underwear bomber in Amsterdam in 2009, clearly indicate that terrorists are pushing the limits and even their underpants to hit the aviation sector,” he said, while emphasising that ensuring security of about 40 small airports and heliports in India is a subject that cannot be “ignored”.
On Christmas Day in 2009, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had a botched attempt in blowing up a commercial plane for the al-Qaeda. He was badly burned when a bomb sewn into his underwear failed to detonate fully on-board a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit. Farouk earned the nicknames of underwear bomber and Christmas Day bomber.
Singh also called on aviation security agencies in the country to undertake “perspective planning” to thwart possible terror-like threats to aviation facilities. He said security agencies such as the CISF should undertake “untiring and sincere efforts to maintain fool-proof security” at airports, which are thronged by lakhs of travellers daily.
The seminar is being organised by the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), a federal force that guards 60 civil airports at present. It is being attended by delegates from 18 countries and several airlines.
Speaking about the domestic scenario, Singh said: “There are 40 other operational airports and heliports under the regional connectivity scheme (RCS) in India, which are guarded by airport security units carved out from the respective state police forces. The strength of any claim is determined by the strength of its smallest unit, therefore the security of the smaller airports should never be ignored.”
He further said it was essential to innovate and think new to meet evolving threats to aviation security. “We have come up with an adequate set of infrastructure at airports which commensurate with the increased number of air passengers. But, there are still many challenges and vulnerabilities. Therefore, we need perspective planning, more international cooperation and better coordination,” he said.
We should adhere to stricter implementation of internationally agreed guidelines and norms, and induction of updated advanced technology in all airports would enhance our security capabilities, Singh said. “The governments and aviation agencies have to increasingly think about newer methods to tackle conventional and un-conventional threats.”
The Home Minister also shed light on some legal measures taken by his government to ensure safety in the aviation sector. “We have upgraded our anti-hijacking mechanisms since 1999 by refining our strengths and rectifying our weaknesses. Keeping the threat of aircraft hijacking by terrorists in mind, India has reviewed its preparedness towards such exigencies,” he said.
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