India: Sniper towers to be erected at four international airports : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Sniper towers to be erected at four international airports

Swati Chaturvedi (New Delhi, September 20) -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The scene at the four major international airports will soon be eerily reminiscent of Israel. Security watchtowers with snipers armed with automatic weapons will be set up to thwart off possible terrorist attacks. The Civil Aviation Ministry took this decision taking in view the fact that these airports are high on the threat perception list.

The first tower will come up at the Delhi airport followed by Mumbai. These two airports have identified it as 'most sensitive' by the intelligence agencies.

Union Minister for Civil Aviation Shahnawaz Hussain formally cleared the plan at a security review meeting. The Airports Authority of India has been told to built the tower, ensuring that the flight path and the view of the air traffic control towers are not blocked.

A preliminary assessment with inputs from the Intelligence Bureau has already been carried out and work is expected to begin soon. "This will ensure that perimeter security cannot be breached," said a senior official.

Snipers were deployed at the Srinagar airport after a suicide squad attack six months ago. A similar plan was chalked for other airports at that time, but was put on hold due to paucity of funds. Watch towers will be built at other airports after the present work is completed.

Sources said that a contentious plan to set up a dedicated Civil Aviation Security Force, the brainchild of former Civil Aviation Minister Sharad Yadav, has been put on hold. Instead, a decision was taken to deploy CISF personnel at all airports in a phased manner. The deployment of CISF personnel at airports was stopped following complaints from politicians who objected to being searched.

Sky marshals have already been deployed on almost all routes. Snipers for watchtowers would be selected from sharp shooters of the National Security Guard (NSG).

An official dealing with security said: "Our biggest problem is the VIP mindset as passes and access to security areas is seen as a status symbol." Officials at the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security have confirmed that after the attack on the US, requests for airport passes are being rejected.

-- Martin Thompson (, September 20, 2001

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