Bengaluru airport tests readiness: Mock hijack and response drill plays out on tarmac

The annual exercise, mandated by the Bureau of Civil Aviation Ministry at all airports in the country,is to ensure they are ready to face emergencies.
Kempegowda International Airport.
Kempegowda International Airport.

BENGALURU: Hijacking of an IndiGo aircraft was simulated at the Kempe Gowda International Airport on Tuesday afternoon by numerous security agencies. This is an annual exercise mandated by the Bureau of Civil Aviation Ministry at all airports in the country to ensure they are ready to face emergencies.

Speaking to The New Indian Express, security sources said the drill was conducted between 12.30 pm and 3 pm. “Since the airport runway is closed on all Tuesday afternoons for maintenance purposes, we chose to conduct it during that time as aircraft operations will not be affected in any way,” said a CISF official.  
Representatives from the Airport Police, Central Industrial Security Force, Intelligence Bureau, state government, Air Force and the Army were present along with Central government agencies co-ordinating from New Delhi, he added.  

Another source involved in the drill explained the scenario. “An IndiGo bus was used in place of an aircraft. Twenty passengers drawn from these agencies were seated on board the bus to simulate real passengers. Suddenly, three of those on board took out shot guns and threatened passengers with it,” he said.

Two of the ‘passengers’ were shot dead and thrown outside the moving bus. The driver was made to take the bus to an isolation bay, where any aircraft which is in trouble is usually steered to, the official added.
One of the ‘hijackers’ made a call to someone in the airport and informed about the hijacking. The main demand was to release one of the men kept in India’s custody, the voice said. “All of us gathered together in the anti-hijacking cabin which is equipped with CCTV, recording equipment and a hotline to New Delhi. Additional Chief Secretary Rajneesh Goel was present. Since decisions need to be taken in co-ordination with the Centre, another team gathered in an anti-hijacking room in Delhi,” he said.

Meanwhile, IB officials traced one of the caller’s number and learnt that he was a resident of Shivajinagar. “His house was traced and his sister was brought to the airport. She was made to appeal to one of the hijackers and convince him to surrender. After some time, the hijacker relented and they all surrendered,” the source said.

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The New Indian Express