In a first, 150 CISF commandos will be on guard to secure a five-star luxury hotel in Mumbai that gives a sweeping view of the airport runway. Official sources said yesterday that the Union Home Ministry recently cleared the deployment of the armed contingent to secure the air side flanks of the hotel — Taj Santacruz — located right next to the domestic terminal of the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA).
Taj Santacruz. Pic/Nimesh Dave
CISF Director General Surender Singh confirmed that the sanction for the deployment has been given by the government.
The sources said as the hotel has a USP of having “airport facing runway” rooms and floors, it was essential to cover that flank from the point of view of any terrorist or sabotage like activity.
On February 1, mid-day had reported how the runway-facing floors had been lying unused for want of proper and foolproof security, and the CISF had earlier cited shortage of manpower and heavy duty at Mumbai airport, to take on the new task of securing the hotel (‘Top half of Taj at Mumbai airport to remain shut over security concerns’, February 1).
“The deployment of the force is on the internal security pattern, and this could be a precursor for the force to take up the assignment full time considering the vulnerability of the air operations, which are visible from the floors of the hotel,” the sources said.
The hotel is only 2 minutes walking distance from the domestic terminal and ten minutes from the international terminal of the CSIA.
The hotel, with 279 rooms and suites, boasts of being the first airport hotel in the country to give the occupants a clear view of the runway. This is the first time that the Central Industrial Security Force has been deployed to secure a five-star hotel in the private sector after it was mandated to take on such duties in the aftermath of the 2008 Mumbai terror attack.