Just two days after the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, I was travelling on business. Flying off to four cities over four days, doing a return to Mumbai the same evening each day. No one would have visited the airport as much as I did in these four days. At least none that I know of.
Reports of heightened security across the city including the airport were splashed across the papers and television news channels. Later on, threats were also made to the Delhi, Chennai and Bangalore airports, and thereafter security intensified. Additional forces were deployed at these airports and there was 'intense' frisking of passengers. Hand Baggage was screened twice as against once earlier. None of this was consistent across various cities. Not even at the ones that received the terror threats, except for the additional deployment of forces.
I have one question to ask. Or rather several questions leading to the same thought. Shouldn't the security at the airport anyway be more relentless? Of course barring the additional forces. Shouldn't passengers be frisked 'intensely' anyway? Given that frisking normally meant security personnel, in a rushed stroke, would move their metal detectors across your body, missing half of the most crucial areas where one could possibly hide a harmfull object.
How difficult is it for a terrorist to enter the airport with guns or bombs? The answer is, very easy. There are no baggage screening points before you enter the airport. How easy it is to enter with a bag full of explosives! Simply be dressed like you're going on business, wearing a two-piece suit, smile at the security guard, show your photo-identity card and your ticket, and just walk in.
I was required to carry four standees, each neatly packed in a slim, black four-feet canvas cover to all these locations. I could swear, it raised more eyebrows of the passengers than the security personnel inside the airport. These looked nothing less than four bazookas! Maybe I looked unassuming, nothing like how the look of a terrorist is perceived to be. But so did the ones who attacked Mumbai!
One last thought...
Why do such lapses bother us only once the harm is done? Why do we question the security at key places only when the attackers have killed our loved ones? We have to react.
But being reactive is not something that can avert a crisis coming.