Heightened airport security leaves passengers edgyDecember 5th, 2008 - 7:45 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Dec 5 (IANS) A security personnel was perched high up on the roof with a gun aimed at the entrance of Delhi airport. Armed security men looked around suspicously as heightened security after the early Friday terror scare left hundreds of passengers edgy through the day. Glued to the television screens which continually flashed news about the “shooting” incident, people scrambled to the help desk at the lounge area, asking if the reports were true and more importantly, if they were safe.
“Ma’am, are these reports true? Was there any firing in the airport in the morning?” asked an elderly gentleman to the young girl sitting at the held desk inside the security lounge area.
“Is the Indigo flight to Mumbai delayed because of security concerns?” asked another passenger.
While the airport employee assured them that there was no need to worry, all that remained with the passengers were her first three words: “Yes, it happened”.
The Indira Gandhi International Airport was shut down for about 20 minutes early Friday following reports of gunfire near the arrival terminal. The alarm was raised after a white Toyota Qualis car reportedly breached a security barrier and tried to approach the arrival terminal from a restricted road around 1.10 a.m.
Ashima Jain, a designer travelling with her ailing mother to Pune, said that the fortress look of the airport was enough to unnerve her.
“As we entered the airport, the first thing that we saw was a security personnel perched high up with a gun aimed at the entrance of the airport. Thereafter, inside the terminal, wherever you look, there are armed men looking around suspiciously and constantly on their walkie talkies. Somehow it has all scared me a little,” Jain admitted to IANS.
The private airlines have themselves taken upon themselves to have every item checked and scrutinied before letting it aboard.
Therefore your hand baggage along with the rest of your luggage goes through the x-ray machine, you are asked again and again if you are carrying any liquids or sharp objects (which is not allowed) and you have to go through a thorough check.
There are repeated announcements not to leave your luggage unattended.
The tightened security, with dozens of police and paramilitary personnel swarming the airport, came into effect after an e-mail threat Thursday specifically mentioned that an attack on Indian airports would take place between Dec 3 and 7. The e-mail was tracked by the Interpol to Lahore in Pakistan and was sent by a Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operative.
A security official, requesting anonymity, said there were specific intelligence inputs that militants from Pakistan or Afghanistan were planning to strike airports (in India) ahead of the Dec 6 anniversary of the demolition of the Babri Masjid.
Mario John, a tourist traveling from Delhi to Vadodara, said he was more relieved than scared at the stringent security checks.
“I am satisfied with the security check. It is afterall aimed at our security and that cannot be compromised. A dealy of 15-20 minutes is okay as long as I am assured that I am safe,” John told IANS at the domestic terminal.