In response to a threat received from the outlawed separatist group Sikhs For Justice (SFJ), the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) has ordered additional security checks for Air India flights at airports in Punjab and the national capital. The move comes in the wake of an alert issued by BCAS, highlighting potential threats to civil aviation installations all over India, including airports and aviation training facilities.
A recent order issued by BCAS has called for a “100 percent Secondary Ladder Point Check (SLPC)” for all Air India flights at Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport in Delhi and airports in Punjab. This heightened security measure includes the issuance of Temporary Airport Entry Passes (TAEP) and a ban on the entry of visitors to the terminal building at IGI Airport. Additionally, the sale of visitors’ entry tickets will be temporarily prohibited.
This security directive, which was issued on Monday, has already been implemented and will remain in effect until November 30, 2023.
The heightened security measures were prompted by a video message released by Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, the founder of the banned Sikhs for Justice (SFJ). In the video, Pannun urged Sikhs to avoid flying in Air India aircraft after November 19, warning of potential threats to their lives. He even claimed that Air India would be prevented from operating on that day.
The BCAS order also underscores the continuous threat messages being shared by central security agencies concerning potential threats to civil aviation installations throughout India, including airports, airstrips, airfields, air force stations, helipads, flying schools, and aviation training institutes.
A senior officer involved in airport security emphasized the need for a high level of vigilance, particularly in light of the intelligence inputs received from security agencies. When asked about the special security measures in place in response to the threat from a member of the separatist group, the officer stated, “Irrespective of the profile of the caller, we react to all threat calls related to airport security as per the standard operating procedure. Although most of such calls are hoaxes, we respond.”
The Secondary Ladder Point Checking (SLPC) is a secondary-level security procedure mandated by BCAS. Under this procedure, airline staff are required to frisk passengers and inspect their hand luggage after receiving security clearance from the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), just before passengers board the aircraft.
The BCAS’s swift response to this threat serves as a reminder of the critical importance of maintaining the safety and security of civil aviation in India, even in the face of potential threats. Passengers and airline staff should be prepared for enhanced security measures when traveling on Air India flights until the end of the month.