For some, the news of a ‘fake’ bomb scare or a fake extortion call is a relief, for some it’s extra expenditure, for some it’s loss of business and for some it is business.
Egypt is not considered a ‘safe’ destination by many Indian tourists owing to a long period of instability and violence, but in 2010 around 1.1 lakh tourists from India visited Egypt making it a record number. In 2011, however, the massive protests at Cairo’s Tahrir Square seeking the dismissal of then president Hosni Mubarak once again lead to a long period of uncertainty and violence. Resultantly, the number of tourists declined to 60,000 in 2014.
Once again the tourism to of the country showed an upward trend when Indian tourists rose to 77,000 by the end of 2015. Now whether or not the recent (29/3/16) EgyptAir hijack affect the upward trend of tourism is yet to be seen.
It’s the first quarter of 2016 and the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) has already received 15 hoax calls costing the airlines and security agencies in crores. It is said grounding an aircraft a single time costs the airlines 1.5 – 2.5 crores because the process includes:
- Accommodating passengers.
- Arranging for another airbus, if required.
- Refund of ticket money.
- Arranging for extra fuel in case of flight diversion
- Deploying new crew
What makes IGIA an easy target?
According to the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), the IGIA currently has the Security Hold Area plan wherein passengers are allowed to walk up to the check-in counters where frisking is done. In other words, IGIA is built in a manner that frisking of visitors cannot be done before their entry. To implement the concourse plan proposed by the International Civil Aviation Organization, an overhauling of the airport would be required that would mean chaos outside the terminal leading to traffic snarls and long queues. During the process, the airport would be left all the more vulnerable allowing easy access and escape routes to the anti-social elements. The process would also require the CISF to deploy extra forces. All these factors make revamping of IGIA a distant plan.
‘Fake’ extortion calls
Ransoms has been an income source for underworld dons, we know this. But the new find is that it has become an income source for blue -collar professionals such as scrap dealers, auto drivers and mutton sellers. In Mumbai alone, 30 such people have been arrested for making extortion bids in the initial two months of 2016. In 2015, 150 such arrests were made in the city.
Vinayak Vast, the chief of anti-extortion cell briefed that in 2015, a developer received death threats through WhatsApp. The sender used photographs of Dawood’s brother and demanded 50 lakhs. When traced, the number came out to be of a scrap dealer’s son who wanted to make fast money.
Recently two underworld imposters were arrested who called and threatened a builder demanding 50 lakhs from him. However, their plan foiled, were arrested and turned out to be auto drivers.
Mumbai Police spokesperson, DCP Dhananjay Kulkarni explained that a new trend is being witnessed wherein people with no criminal records are making such extortion calls. Upon investigation, they confess their crime and the reasons they give include indebtedness, poverty, payment of medical bills or plain, simple greed.