Case for Tightening India’s Airport Security
Three recent developments warrant an upgrade in India’s airport security systems. One, the defection of a Hizbul militant to the Islamic State (IS) in Jammu and Kashmir; two, the establishment of a base by the IS in strife-torn Mindanao, in the Philippines, where its fighters, including from lands as far away as Chechnya, are combating the army; and, three, Australia has just foiled a plot to use a new kind of chemical bomb on a Dubai-bound flight, designed to release a poison gas that would kill everyone aboard. After losing its Caliphate in Iraq and Syria, the IS has, clearly, spread out its operations, with a special focus on Asia. There is no reason to believe that India would not be a major target for IS expansion and attacks. Several Indians have already demonstrated their willingness to join the terror outfit, some have died fighting abroad. Wanton attacks in different parts of the country on Muslims in different parts of the country for no reason other than their faith produce a fertile ground for recruiting fresh volunteers to the radicals’ cause. This being the case, there is every reason to raise the level of vigilance across the board against fresh terror attacks. Intelligence, of course, is the first line of defence. But policing and security protocols at sensitive spots such as airports must go up. If unconventional chemical weapons disguised as articles of everyday use are being used by the terror outfit, airport security must prepare for and guard against this possibility.
Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. That, and painful queues, as searches and screening become more thorough. What the government can and should do is to man every screening terminal and deploy more personnel for security checks, to minimise the pain for legitimate passengers.