Monday, March 22, 2010

Bomb on Kingfisher flight, act of internal rivalry

A day after the discovery of a crude bomb on board a Bengaluru-Thiruvananthapuram Kingfisher flight exposed the glaring lapses in security, the police are now considering the possibility of the incident being an 'in-house job'.

"Preliminary investigations have revealed that there are several unregistered unions within the company which are trying to get the better of each other. There have been certain issues pertaining to transfers which have led to a cold war. Our initial probe suggests that the bomb could have been placed in a bid to embarrass the company," said Deputy Commissioner of Police (Bangalore North) Basavaraj Malagatti.

Meanwhile, the Central Industrial Security Force, which is in charge of maintaining security at airports, continues to blame the airline for the lapse, claiming it was the responsibility of Kingfisher personnel to screen the baggage at the departure lounge, before the passengers board the plane.

Kingfisher has retaliated by pointing out that the airline did not have a cargo hold and the cargo compartment is located between the cockpit and the passenger's cabin, and hence it should have been the responsibility of the airport operators to check it.

According to the police, each department responsible for airport security is conducting an individual inquiry into the matter. The security breach, which has embarrassed the airport authorities and Kingfisher airlines equally, appears to be a result of internal rivalry between the unions.

Blame game
A debate regarding the security breach at the Bangalore International Airport due to which someone managed to plant a crude bomb on a Kingfisher Airlines [ Images ] aircraft from Bangalore to Thiruvananthapuram is on with the authorities blaming each other for the incident.

The Central Industrial Security Force, which is in charge of the airport's security, has blamed the airline officials for the incident while the airlines authorities blamed the CISF.

Senior CISF officials said it is the responsibility of the airlines to screen the baggage that gets into the cargo, while the CISF ensures that they screen the hand baggage manually at the departure lounge before the passengers board the aircraft.

On the other hand the cargo baggage undergoes an x-ray screening before it is loaded to the aircraft, an official told

Both CISF and BIA who conducted a review meeting on the incident have blamed the airline for the security breach stating that the security norms at the airport is in compliance with the regulations laid down by the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security.

Anti-sabotage checks are supposed to be conducted twice before an aircraft embarks. The anti-sabotage check is usually conducted in the mornings and in case of an early morning flight, its done the previous night and only after the check is conducted clearance is given to take-off.

"If such a check had been conducted properly, the explosive material could have been detected," said a CISF official.

Responding to the charges against them, the airline has said that flight IT 4731 being an ATR-72 aircraft does not have a cargo hold and the cargo compartment in the aircraft is located between its cockpit and the passenger cabin, and hence it is the responsibility of the airport operators to conduct any check.

"Shortly after Kingfisher Airlines flight IT 4731 landed in Thiruvananthapuram and after all the 27 guests on board had de planed, a routine security check was being carried out. During this security check, an unclaimed package was found. The matter was immediately reported to the authorities who removed the package from the aircraft, and as precautionary measure, the aircraft is being checked by the security agencies," a statement from the Kingfisher stated.

Airport officials said that there was no lapse on its side and that it is impossible to smuggle explosives into the aircraft and to then load it on to an aircraft.

Meanwhile, investigators are also looking into the aspect whether explosives wrapped in a Malayalam newspaper could have been sneaked into the aircraft after the aircraft landed in Thiruvananthapuram, considering that the checks had already been carried at the BIA.

ANI adds:

The Kerala government has constituted a high-level committee headed by Deputy Commissioner of Police Jolly Cherian to probe the incident.

The state government has asked the security agencies to conduct a thorough investigation and find out how the lapse took place at the airport.

Kerala Law Minister M Vijaykumar said, "It is a serious security lapse. We have directed the security agencies to look into this."

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