Assault points to security lapse. Authorities in talks with the DGCA and AAI to deploy additional force
The Juhu Aerodrome witnessed high drama in the early hours of Saturday, when a few locals from the neighbouring Nehru Nagar area allegedly attacked two of the airport security guards.
Anil Nalawade and Sadashiv Tukaram Bugade
According to the FIR registered with the Santacruz police, the incident took place at around 1 am, when guards Sadashiv Tukaram Bugade (58) and Anil Nalawade (38) were on duty at the watchtower, which is inside the airport premises. Around five men, who were allegedly drunk and armed with wooden sticks, broke down the periphery wall, entered the area and started hitting the two guards.
While Bugade suffered severe injuries to his head, Nalawade received wounds to his left eye and ear. Following the incident, the Quick Response Team rushed the injured guards to Cooper Hospital. The two guards are currently recuperating at the Airport Authority of India (AAI) office as they are not in a state to travel back to their homes, which are in Kalyan and Dombivli.
Speaking to mid-day, Bugade, who has received stitches to his head, said that the attackers first entered the premises at around 11.45 pm on Friday to steal the concertina coil (barbed wire) that surrounds the wall. "Nalawade drove them away, but they returned at around 1 am and started hitting us," Bugade alleged.
An FIR has been registered at the Santacruz police station under IPC section 394, 34 and 447 for voluntarily causing hurt and criminal trespass. The Juhu police have also been informed about the incident, and is looking for the accused.
The barbed wall, which shields the periphery area of the Juhu Aerodrome, has been broken down by locals from the Nehru Nagar area, time and again
Speaking on condition of anonymity, an airport authority said that this is not the first time that the Juhu Aerodrome has witnessed incidents of trespassing. Slumdwellers from the Indira and Nehru Nagar areas have encroached the area in the past too.
"The wall (as per International Civil Aviation Organisation) is almost 10-feet high. Yet, the locals manage to break it, every time it is repaired," said the official. To tighten security, the airport authorities had also deployed police officials to man the area. But, when mid-day spoke to a constable, we learnt that the measure has proved ineffective.
"They aren't scared of the uniform. The locals even throw stones at us," he said. The Juhu Airport authorities are now in talks with the Dire-ctorate General of Civil Aviation and AAI to deploy the Maharashtra Security Force in the area.
Commenting on the incident, Dhanushyakodi Sivanandan, former DGP of Maharashtra said, "This is a serious issue of concern and should not be taken lightly. Authorities must deploy Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and use advanced technology to tackle the issue." He, however, did not elaborate on the security risks.