The CISF also pressed into service its sniffer dog squads and commando teams.
New Delhi: Security at international and domestic airports in Mumbai, Hyderabad and Chennai was put on maximum alert on Sunday after the state police forces and the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) were informed about a possible hijack attempt.
Officials said the alert was issued after a woman, purportedly from Hyderabad, sent an email to a senior police officer in Mumbai on Saturday. The e-mail said that she had overheard six men at a restaurant discussing simultaneous hijack of flights from the three airports on Sunday.
She claimed that the men were telling each other that “all 23 people have to split from here and board flights in three cities and hijack planes”.
“The unidentified woman wrote in the e-mail that what she heard could be ‘true or not’, but she chose to inform the authorities as she felt it was her duty to do so as a citizen,” a senior officer said.
The Mumbai Police alerted all security and intelligence agencies, as well as the CISF, which is in charge of security at the country’s airports, and Saturday night itself a meeting of all stakeholders at these airports was convened with the input being declared specific and actionable, the officer said.
Security protocols at these airports was increased to the level usually reserved for Republic and Independence Day.
Counter-terrorism teams have been put in place, which have increased vigilance at entry gates and parking lots.
CISF director general O.P. Singh said, “The e-mail could eventually turn out be a hoax, but till investigations conclude, all security drills to thwart a hijack like scenario are being carried out at the three airports.”
Special anti-sabotage sweeps were carried out at the three airports early Sunday. The CISF also pressed into service its sniffer dog squads and quick reaction commando teams for undertaking sanitisation drills. All airlines have been asked to remain extra vigilant.
“However, there is no reason to panic and all the operations at these airports will be conducted as normally as possible so that passengers don’t face any problem,” a senior officer, who is part the airports security team, said.
In Chennai, security has been strengthened at the domestic and international airports. However, flight traffic is unaffected by the enhanced security measures, officials said in Chennai. Other airports in the country have also been sanitised and officials asked to remain vigilant, the CISF DG said.
The police are probing the contents of the e-mail and trying to ascertain the identity of the sender and get in touch with the person. There has been no hijack involving an Indian aircraft since the 1999 Kandahar hijacking.