The security at Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport was severely compromised on Wednesday night, thanks to a fight between customs officials and CISF (Central Industrial Security Force) personnel, that resulted in two security gates being unmanned for a period of four hours.
The spat had been triggered by a customs raid on two CISF vehicles, following a tip off that one of the vans had been carrying illegal contraband. The vans had not been carrying contraband, but the officials had found during verification, that one of the vans did not have an entry permit for the airport while the other had an expired license.
Times of India quoting an unnamed airport source, reported that customs had detained the vehicles and informed the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS). In the meantime, the driver of one of the vehicles tried to forcibly drive the van out of the airport precincts, but was stopped by the officials, and that a scuffle between personnel of the two agencies ensued soon after.
DNA reports that following the incident, the CISF personnel refused to carry out security checks of passengers at gate numbers 1 and 6. Custom officers said they manned the gates while the CISF personnel looked on.
The situation had continued until about 7.30pm, when CISF personnel were brought back to man the gates.
SP Selvan, DIG, CISF, airport, told DNA that there had been no security compromise, and that flights had not been affected.
Be as it may however, the fact that there was no one to conduct security checks on passengers through two gates is not a matter that can be taken lightly, especially given that the airport is undoubtedly one of the most sensitive security areas in the city. And especially given that Mumbai has been regularly targeted by terrorists, the four hour security lapse can be called nothing short of unforgivable.