Case for Tight­en­ing In­dia’s Air­port Se­cu­rity

The Economic Times - - The Edit Page -

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.

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