The CISF went on a wild goose chase following a security scare after it failed to detain a suspicious passenger, believed to be carrying an objectionable item in his hand baggage.
The CISF, however, could neither recover any objectionable item nor identify the passenger, but ended up delaying three flights — one of GoAir (G8-150 to Delhi) and two of IndiGo (6E-2041 to Delhi; and 6E 7718 to Kolkata) — as it temporarily suspended boarding of passengers into aircraft.
The CISF also insisted on an intensive security re-check, which included re-frisking and re-scanning personal baggage of all 180 passengers, asking some on board the GoAir flight to deplane and reroute through security. The aircraft was subjected to anti-sabotage by airlines security staff before being allowed to take off at 9.30pm, 80 minutes behind schedule.
Having found nothing objectionable on GoAir, the CISF concluded that the “culprit” would have flown to the national capital by another aircraft of SpiceJet (SG-8481), which flew around 7.30pm. It then not only alerted its counterparts at Delhi airport, but also called for SpiceJet station manager Syed Hassan and its security incharge Amit Jha to impress upon them to ask their colleagues in Delhi to be alert and keep an eye on all deplaning passengers from the Patna flight.
As the whole drama unfolded at the Jai Prakash Narayan International airport here between 7.30 and 9.30pm, the GoAir and the IndiGo flights were delayed by up to 80 minutes.
Avinash Kumar, a Delhi-bound GoAir passenger, said: “We were harassed in the name of security as all passengers, including those on wheelchair, were made to disembark and go through the security drill all over again, with no tangible result whatsoever. This led to a delay, causing severe inconvenience to passengers.”
The CISF ended up with egg on its face, giving out conflicting statements, as it was hard put to defend its actions.
Vishal Dubey, commandant of the airport security unit, Patna airport, sent a text message on a WhatsApp group, terming the operation as “routine intensive search”. “Please don’t go by any version of any unusual detection, etc. All passengers boarded and flew (sic!). It was a precautionary measure in wake of alert (sic!),” read his text message.
Dubey’s subordinate, inspector Ajit Kumar, sent out a different message on another WhatsApp group that read: “A screener (baggage screener on X-ray machine) missed some suspicious item in hand baggage of a passenger during physical check. All the screened passengers were rechecked and allowed for boarding. In the whole process some delay has occurred.”
Airport director BCH Negi said, “Three flights were delayed last night due to some security issues. You can speak to the CISF commandant for details.”
Dubey, however, refused to talk to this reporter, saying he was not authorised to speak to the media.
CISF public relations officer, Hemendra, said: “I am not aware about the incident as I am on leave.”
Security at all Indian airports has been heightened following a high alert till August 31.