Chennai: Security officials at the airport here are deeply worried over the growing incidence of anonymous callers making hoax bomb threats as the malice could gradually lead to dangerous dilution of the security drill now prevailing at the various airports across the country.
In a third such instance within a week, a bomb threat call to the airport here turned out to be a hoax, with a 30-year-old man from Tiruchirapally being arrested for making the call in an inebriated condition. He had made the call at around 0250 hours during Thursday-Friday night to the control room at the Chennai police commissioner’s office and said a bomb would go off at an airport in Tamil Nadu. He did not mention the name of the airport under threat and hung up after saying his friend from abroad had called him to warn of the bomb.
The police control room traced the call to Tiruchirapally and alerted the police there.
Meanwhile, the airports at Chennai, Trichy, Coimbatore, Madurai and Tuticorin were put on high alert, with the security personnel subjecting the passengers and their baggage to extra scrutiny. While the bomb threat turned out to be a hoax, the caller was tracked down to Lalgudi at about 7 a.m Friday morning.
Subramanian, 26, was inebriated even as he was being hauled to the police station for quizzing and remand, police said.
Boozed-up bravado was the culprit in the hoax bomb call that ‘hit’ the Chennai airport last Sunday. The control room at the Police Commissioner’s office received a call at about 9.30 pm with two ‘friends’ taking turns over the same phone to ‘report’ a bomb threat to the airport. They appeared to be drunk and arguing over a money transaction. The call was traced to Pallikaranai where the two drunken men were nabbed within a couple of hours but by then, the security personnel as well as the passengers at the airport had to go through harrowing experience with stepped up scrutiny drill.
“Questioning the two men revealed that one of them wanted to fix the other as he allegedly cheated him after taking money for employment at the airport”, said a police official.
The first hoax call happened early morning last Friday but that came from far away Ahmedabad, where the airport duty manager got an anonymous call saying a bomb would blow up the airport. Since he did not mention which airport, all the 128 airports in the country were put on alert, including the Chennai airport. Needless to say that the passengers and their baggage were put through extra scrutiny and the drill went on till midnight.
“We are worried that this increasing tendency among people, particularly after a couple of drinks, to make such hoax bomb threats for impressing booze-mates, or for whatever other reasons. This could lead to some security personnel at the airport taking a genuine alert call too lightly, assuming it to be another hoax call”, said a senior security official, requesting anonymity.
He said, “Such hoax bomb callers should be dealt with sternly; they should be detained under the Goondas’ Act. That would act as a deterrent.Their irresponsible actions could jeopardise so many lives at the airport”.