Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) is all set to take over security of hyper-sensitive Srinagar International Airport with the force conducting maiden man-power drill there.
To begin with, the CISF will take over the Anti-hijacking operations that are presently being handled by the Jammu and Kashmir police.
The move comes after the proposal to handover security of all three airports of the State—Srinagar, Jammu and Leh to CISF was cleared by the ministry of home affairs (MHA) in a high-level meeting convened in New Delhi last month. The meeting was participated by top officials from the Airport Authority of India (AAI) and Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS), who, according to sources, had recommended CISF deployment at all the three airports of J&K.
"The proposal was mooted four-years ago, but got stuck in the technical hitches. Last month, the MHA directed the officials to implement the proposal on fast-track basis," a source in the MHA said.
Out of around 100 airports in India, CISF is managing the security affairs of 61 major airports. A source said that all the three airports in J&K fall under hyper-sensitive category given the "prevailing security scenario in the State."
"The CISF has conducted first man-power survey at the Srinagar airport," director Srinagar Airport, Akash Deep Mathur told Greater Kashmir. "They will be taking over anti-hijacking operations while as CRPF will continue to deal with the peripheral security."
From the first entry gate of the airport, CRPF is involved in conducting checking of vehicles, passengers and their luggage. "We have been told to cooperate with the CISF when the need arises though our areas of operations are entirely different," a top CRPF official, said wishing not to be named. He said that CISF is likely to take over the airport security from the second luggage and passenger checking point—the main entry point of the airport by February given the nod by MHA.
A source at the airport said that given the expertise of CISF men in dealing with the passenger influx, luggage checking and anti-hijacking operations in almost all the major airports of India, "the force is also considered passenger friendly." "The deployment of CISF men at the Srinagar, Jammu and Leh airports will also lead to a massive cut in security related expenditure as evident from other airports," he said.
Asked whether the airport security would result in "zero role" of J&K police once the CISF would take over, the source said that it is believed that the presence of cops would become minimal after CISF deployment. "Presently, anti-hijacking operations are handled by the J&K police and when CISF would take the charge, police role would become minimal. For the security purpose, presence of J&K policemen would remain at the airport, though in less numbers," the source said.
As per official figures, Srinagar Airport alone witnesses flow of more than 50 lakh passengers annually. "Jammu and Leh airports, register the travel of over 20 lakh passengers annually," an airport official revealed.