– Ali Imam Mazumder*
Ticket is necessary for going and coming to anywhere by air. And for going to a foreign country various formalities including passport, visa are needed. These documents are examined-scrutinized at the airport. Different stages are to be passed step by step. Due to these reasons the security system of the airport is considered with importance. And the necessity of the matter is being increased day by day. There are workers of various agencies to enforce it at different stages. It is noticed that there are five tiers of security cordon from the entrance of the airport up to the boarding of the aircraft. Out of our international airports the position of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport of Dhaka lies at the top. Even if its present infrastructure is gradually enhancing the supply against the increased demand is difficult to meet. The government is conscious in respect of any insufficiency in the security system of the airport. It is to be mentioned that on the accusation of this insufficiency incident of ban on the landing of the aircrafts carrying goods from our country to a few countries was imposed. Very recently the United Kingdom has withdrawn this ban. Prohibition has been withdrawn through ceaseless efforts of the government. This kind of banning side by side loss in trade and commerce damages the image of the country. Efficiency of the administrative system is also involved with the matter.
Security ring has been created at every stage at the main airport of the country. Against it there is manpower. Any deficiency in any agency may be removed if necessary. Perhaps it does not create any problem. Complaints are there that persons who are connected with this security system themselves break it. Allegation goes that other people also break it with their collaboration. May be that this sort of violations of rules are not done with the motive of sabotage. Fundamentally these happen at the time of going and coming from the foreign countries or during bidding farewell to the kith and kin. But these acts are unlawful and punishable. And any dishonest circle may avail of this chance of loose security system.
Such two minor but important news were capable of perturbing the countryman. On 19 and 22 of February last two news items got published in the Prothom Alo with importance; the first news item had the heading ‘Security severed by police acts.’ A police sub-inspector boarded on a Thai Airlines aircraft directly breaking the security system for helping his relative passenger going abroad. He got stranded when abruptly the doors of the aero-plane got closed. By sensing the event the captain managed to disembarking him by reopening the doors. But he refuged to pilot the craft on the plea of security risk. On intervention of the concerned higher authority the aircraft left Dhaka.
But nothing is known about any action against the said sub-inspector. He was not a serving employee at the airport. Even he was not carrying out the police duty. He was on family affairs. Then he put on uniform for an advantage to enter this way. Does it sound much if it is analyzed in this manner? And there are many agencies other than police. None challenged him. The concerned Sub-Inspector said that from checking up to the boarding none asked him anything. In that case does not an urge on the part of a saboteur way him to enter such a sensitive place dressed with such type of uniform? But the concerned agency kept quite without any immediate punishment to the sub-inspector.
The headline of the news on 22 February reads ‘This time customs officer broke the security.’ It was learned that a Assistant Revenue Officer of Customs entered into the Boarding Bridge area crossing the two steps of security ring in his effort to aboard his Australia-going son to the aircraft. This officer was on his PRL. But his identity card issued for the working period was not taken back by the Customs. The duty Magistrate at the Airport fined him Tk. 10,000.00. He was punished; perhaps others would learn a lesson from this action. But the question runs that the officer who was in the duty of taking back of the duty pass from him was punished or not? Perhaps nothing was done.
As per the reports of the Press an Airport related police officer said different people including government employees, members of different forces having uniform on, political leaders, journalists request to enter the sensitive areas of the airport in their efforts to see off their relations. How much these requests are honored has not been mentioned in the remarks. But it may be assumed that in most cases these are honored or they have to be complied with. Generally our security checking during aircraft boarding time is less compared to the neighboring countries. In that case if there is scope for illegal entrance of this kind, a concern for any crisis persists. And the apprehension of such occurrences gets more firm if the offenders are exonerated.
Another cause of threat to security of the airport may be from VIP Lounge. An inquiry may be made by the high powered personalities to find out how many users of this lounge are VIPs and how many are not. The present number of the working police and magistrates is not sufficient to face the current situation. What number of companions may accompany a VIP personality to see off and welcome during his coming or going is also fixed by rules. Nothing is followed of these rules. They enter in flocks at different times. And someones who do not fall in the VIP category also misuse the advantage in connivance of anyone of the agencies working at the airport. Misuse of the lounges enhances security risks. Some VIP companions bid fare-well and extend welcome at the boarding bridge gate to the VIP. It has now turned to be a long time practice, it is noticed. A real and just use of this costly installation should be secured.
A country of comparatively small in area, ours is the eighth largest country of the world. By now its population has exceeded 16 crores. The standard of living is being gradually enhanced due to economic growth. Extension of different activities including industries-business has increased. Hence the number of air passengers is rapidly increasing. It is in both the domestic and international fields. To meet this demand a continuous extension of different airports is going on. A process is also running for building one more big international airport. We need everything but at first we require to ensure security provision of the airport in line with the modern world practice. We have this ability. But it is not properly used rather misused. Persons in responsibility work loosely without seriousness. Otherwise the said two incidents would not take place. The two occurrences have been known by the public as these have been caught red handed. It is possible to resist from this path of ruin. The manpower that is employed in respective places should be properly utilized to perform the job efficiently. Any lapse anywhere should be treated with zero tolerance.E
* Former Cabinet Secretary ** Translated into English b