Chennai
Chennai airport [File photo]

Chennai: Security was stepped up at the airport of the capital of Tamil Nadu in view of Vice President Venkaiah Naidu and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s visit today as officials were put on high alert following a bomb threat call to an airline.

An alarm was raised hours before the arrival of the vice president and defence minister to the Tamil Nadu capital. This was after a call was made to an airline operating flights between here and Hyderabad, and security measures have been put in place, officials said.

An unidentified person had called up the airline.

Last year in June, a bomb threat was sent to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) headquarters in Chennai. The threat was sent in a white coloured parcel which contained gunpowder along with a letter.

Twenty flights are scheduled through the day between the two cities.

A higher official said, “Five-tier surveillance has been placed in the airport as part of security arrangements.”

Sources said that the authorities of the airport received a threat call mentioning bomb at a Hyderabad bound flight containing a consignment of water cans.

Soon after that, the Central Institute Security Force (CISF) and bomb squad are deployed to completely scrutinise the premises as part of precautionary measures.

It is learnt that bomb squad experts and sniffer dogs have also been pressed into service. ‘Passengers and baggage are being subjected to thorough checking,’ a security official said.

Hyderabad’s Rajiv Gandhi International Airport has reportedly received a bomb threat too. The threat has been confirmed by the military intelligence and various other airports in the country have also been put on alert.

Meanwhile, in another incident, an airport employee was detained in Ahmedabad for making a hoax bomb call.

On December 31, an Indian-origin US-based CEO of an IT firm was arrested for apparently making a hoax call to Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport.

Vinod Moorjani claimed that the helpline operator had failed to understand him and he was just enquiring about his flight schedule. He said that he asked for the “Bom-Del” status — an aviation abbreviation for Mumbai-Delhi flights.

However, the operator said that the man hung up after saying “bomb hai.” Moorjani pleaded innocence and said that he hung up as there was a disturbance on the call.

But the police believe that Moorjani had intentionally said “bomb hai” and intended to delay outgoing flights so he would not miss his flight to Rome.