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Thursday, May 12, 2016

BCAS orders inquiry into Indigo Airline’s security breach at Srinagar airport

Chief Security Officer of AAI caught travelling on junior’s boarding card

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, May 11: Even as efforts are underway to hush up the matter of a major security breach of Indigo Airlines at Srinagar Airport, Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) has ordered an inquiry to learn how Chief Security Officer of Airports Authority of India (AAI) travelled from Srinagar to New Delhi on a subordinate official’s boarding card.

Different security and intelligence agencies on monitoring and surveillance at the country’s most sensitive airport have reported to their respective headquarters that on April 1st, 2016, AAI’s CSO Tilak Raj Guglani boarded Indigo Airline flight 6E 436, minutes before its departure at 1400 hours and travelled to New Delhi on the boarding pass of his junior official Vimal Kumar. It has been pointed out that this kind of travelling is not only criminal in nature but also a serious security breach.

Highly placed authoritative sources revealed to STATE TIMES that BCAS has ordered an inquiry by Amritsar-based Deputy Commissioner Ashitosh Vasist. Mr Vasist travelled to Srinagar and had a series of interactions with different officials of various agencies, besides the Indigo Airlines staff. However, he is understood not to have submitted his report to BCAS in the last seven weeks.

Some officials privy to the development insisted that efforts were afoot to hush up the matter even as four employees of Indigo Airlines had been briefly removed from duty and placed under suspension. Sources identified the officials suspended as Assistant Manager Mohammad Nadeem, Farhat, Syed Asif and Mudassar who were reportedly on duty beside the aircraft and had stamped Tilak Raj’s boarding card, drawn in the name of Vimal Kumar, even after noticing that it did not have the signatures of the anti-hijacking officials on duty.

“It’s an extremely serious lapse that can warrant cancellation of the private airline’s license to operate at this sensitive airport. Anti-hijacking staff (a component of Security Wing of Jammu and Kashmir Police) got suspicious of the unusual conversation between Tilak Raj and Indigo staff at the boarding point. When it became clear to them that AAI’s CSO had boarded the aircraft on a different official’s boarding card, they tried to stop it but the plane had started movement for departure at the tarmac. The AHJ staff immediately brought it to the notice of SSP Anti-hijacking Manzoor Ahmad Dalal, who, in turn, alerted his senior officials.

Indigo Airline’s Station Manager at Srinagar Airport Aasiya Bashir picked up the telephone from this newspaper. When she was asked about the incident, she dropped the phone. She did not respond to phone calls when STATE TIMES repeatedly tried to contact her for a comment. Assistant Manager Mohammad Nadeem picked up the call but insisted that no such incident had taken place at Srinagar Airport.

“I think you have received totally wrong information. There’s no AAI official by the name of Tilak Raj posted at this airport” Mohammad Nadeem maintained. He claimed that neither he nor anyone else of his staff had been placed under suspension.

SSP Anti-hijacking Manzoor Ahmad Dalal, however, confirmed to STATE TIMES that Chief Security Officer of AAI Mr Tilak Raj had been found travelling from Srinagar to New Delhi on April 1st on an Indigo Airlines flight on the boarding card of his junior official Vimal Kumar. “Our surveillance staff noticed his movement and brought it to our notice. Indigo has perhaps initiated some action against its staff but I have learned that BCAS has ordered an inquiry and DC Mr Vasist is conducting it. He may be having the details”, Mr Dalal asserted. “A sword is definitely dangling on the head of Indigo Airlines for this security breach”, he added.

According to Mr Dalal, it was quite usual for AAI’s CSO and other AAI officers to move in the operational area while wearing their I-cards. However, it was for the first time that someone of them, who are ironically posted to pre-empt such breaches and violations, boarded the aircraft at the eleventh hour while making misuse of his official position and a private airlines staff failed to turn him back. Another official said that it was only the CSO who issues security passes to all concerned. “Yes, it’s a security guidelines breach. They should not have allowed him to board the aircraft that was ready for take-off”, another official said.


[Published in today’s STATE TIMES]

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