Kozhikode: In a unprecedented development, a CISF jawan was killed tonight and at least three others were injured in a clash between the CISF personnel and airport authority employees at Karipur International airport here.
A dispute over a CISF personnel who insisted that an official of the fire force department of Airport Authority of India (AAI) undergo security clearance led to a verbal duel between the two and in the ensuing melee the jawan received gunshot injuries and was killed.
Confirming the death of the CISF personnel, Kerala Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala said ADGP (North) Shankar Reddy had rushed to the spot. The Malappuram Superintendent of Police has also reached the airport and has begun talks with the CISF personnel.
Chennithala said all flights to Kozhikode airport were being diverted to Kochi. The DGP has been asked to send more forces to the airport, he said.
Sunny Thomas, the AAI fire officer, who was in uniform, was trying to enter the airport terminal when the CISF jawan insisted that he undergo a security check. A verbal duel between the two led to situation worsening with the jawan receiving bullet wounds and succumbing to injuries.
Sunny Thomas was injured after he was reportedly beaten up by CISF personnel. Meanwhile, over 100 CISF personnel were on the runway, police said. Kozhikode MP, M K Raghavan said he had contacted Home Secretary L C Goyal and the civil aviation joint secretary, seeking urgent intervention of the Centre.
"It is a war like situation prevailing at the airport," he told PTI. "There are no flight operations. Flights are unable to land," he said and described the situation as 'grave' and 'unprecedented'.
Meanwhile, Airport Authority Employees' Union (AAEU) claimed that excessive frisking by CISF staff led to clash. "Though it (checking) is a routine, but today when AAI personnel were entering the airport, apart from normal frisking, they were even asked to open their lunch boxes, this led to some argument and then heated exchange of words," AAEU General Secretary B S Ahlawat told PTI in Delhi.
Alleging that the firing was aimed at AAI personnel, he said AAI personnel have not shut the airport operations rather they are saving themselves from CISF personnel who have in a way occupied the airport.
There are around 150 AAI staff posted at the airport, of which 40 are with airport fire service.
Sunny Thomas said he had come to the airport to take an injured colleague to hospital when he was attacked by CISF personnel.
"I was kicked, beaten up... they threatened to shoot," he told television channels. There used to be minor skirmishes at the airport, he said. Meanwhile, relatives of passengers who were to arrive at the airport said they had received information that their near and dear ones had reached Nedumbassery airport at Kochi, but were unaware when they would reach home.