The scuffle between the Airport Authority of India (AAI) personnel and the CISF at the Karipur international airport in Kozhikode on Wednesday night leading to the death of a jawan and injury of several others has shocked the nation.
The tragic incident, shaming the nation, took place around 9 pm on Wednesday, when the officials of the two departments clashed over the entry of an AAI personnel into the airport terminal. The AAI manages the civil aviation infrastructure and ensures the smooth functioning of the airport. The CISF, on the other hand, is responsible for the security check of the passengers passing in and out of the airport terminal. Relations between the AAI personnel and the CISF at the Karipur terminal have been sour for quite some time. The AAI officials had asked to exempt them from the routine checks as they had to frequently move about the airport. Things turned disastrous when Sunny Thomas, a senior Superintendent of Fire and Rescue department entering the airport through the VIP gate was stopped by a CISF jawan who insisted him to undergo a security clearance. This led to a verbal duel between the two aggravating the ambience at the terminal with the officials of the two departments involving in a tussle. Many sustained injuries while the jawan who was shot succumbed to death. The AAI officials protested at the runway late into night.
The ’war-like’ situation, however was brought under control by around 1 am. Airport properties including apron lights were destroyed in the clashes. The runway was closed down temporarily and the flights to land in Karipur were diverted to the Cochin International Airport at Nedumbassery. The tense situation at the airport was normalized only by Thursday. There are around 150 AAI staff posted at the airport, of which 40 are with airport fire service. The senior authorities despite being aware of the row between the staff of both the departments hadn’t so far taken steps to resolve their disputes leading to the shameful incident. If the duties, responsibilities and the rights of the officials were assigned discreetly, things would not have ended in a tragic manner. The staff, who violate the guidelines, should be met with stringent action. Altercations between the CISF jawans and the airport authority officials exist not only in Karipur but also in other airports as well. The Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Home Ministry should follow immediate steps to tackle the issue. A thorough investigation into the matter must be carried out and the criminals punished along with ensuring that such incidents would not repeat in future.