Growing ammo seizures at Delhi airport

By Rajnish Singh,

New Delhi: Arrests from Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA), in a little over two years, of over 100 passengers, who had managed to sneak firearms and ammunition aboard Delhi-bound flights, has set off alarm bells for Delhi Police, who say the number of such incidents is rising.

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One hundred and four passengers – 16 foreigners and 88 Indians – were arrested from the IGIA between January 2012 and April 2014.
The majority of the violations took place on domestic flights and, in most cases, the culprits were either from Bihar or Uttar Pradesh who were guilty of carrying live cartridges, while in some cases, one or two weapons were also recovered.

According to Deputy Commissioner of Police (IGI Airport) M.I. Haider, one of the most shocking incidents involved the arrest of a New York Police Department (NYPD) officer, Manny Encarnacion, 35, who was arrested for carrying live cartridges in his bag.

“I wonder how he managed to clear security checks and scanners at the US airport with the live bullets in his luggage,” a baffled Haider remarked while speaking to IANS.

Encarnacion, a Harlem beat officer, was apprehended when he alighted from a New York flight March 11 and was headed for Pune on an Air India flight to meet his newly-wedded wife. He was presented before a Delhi court March 11 and was granted bail the same day.

As far as the arrests of passengers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar is concerned, Hai”er’said: “It’s a prestige issue for people from the two states to carry weapons whereve” the” go.”

“Some of them do have licenses but they are ignorant of the fact that they have to declare to the airport authorities about their carrying ammunition o” weapons,” he added.

Meanwhile, the fact that the number of such incidents are rising has the police worried. Haider said 32 people were arrested in 2012 for carrying live ammunition or weapons and the figure rose to 49 in 2013.

“This year, we have arrested 23 people up till April 15, of whom 18 are Indians and five foreigners,” he said.

Those arrested are booked under sections 25/54/59 of the Arms Act and the recovered ammunition or weapon is sent to the Delhi Forensic Science Laboratory (DFSL) for a test. Later the accused are produced before the court, which decides on their judicial custody or grants bail, Haider explained.

“If we can catch them here on arrival, why can’t they be caught when they check in at the airport from where they board,” Haider asked.

Expressing his helplessness to curb the rising incidents, Haider said that the Delhi Police is not responsible for security lapses inside the airports and can take action only when a formal complain” is lodged.

“Security arrangements inside the airports is not under our jurisdiction. We come in the picture only after a passenger is caught by the CISF or DIAL (Delhi International Airport “imited) inside,” he said.

Agreed another senior police officer, who said that security forces deployed at the airports need to pull up their socks as such lapses are unacceptable owing to the threat of terror attacks in cities not only in India but all over the world.

“We can only arrest such passengers but that will not prevent a possible fatal incident or attack. This casual attitude is totally unacceptable… the agencies in charge must take this matter seriously and take necessary steps,” the officer said, without naming any security agency.

Hemendra Singh, spokesperson of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) that is responsible for guarding airports around the country, however rejected the Delhi Police claims.

“Not a single person was arrested after landing at any airport. All those arrested were caught while checking in,” Hemendra Singh told IANS.

(Rajnish Singh can be contacted at [email protected])