Kathmandu, July 18, 2016:Â In a recently published report, US Department of State hinted that Nepal can become a playground for terrorists due to open and porous border with India and weak security arrangements in the only international airport at Kathmandu.
India also has been constantly warning about Nepalâ€™s Tribhuvan International Airport security.
Nepal has extra pressure to strengthen its security, given the rise in terrorist attacks in South Asia in recent time.
Security Expert Dr. Deepak Prakash Bhatta also says that security system should be upgraded as terrorist activities can take place in the country anytime. Journalist Chudamani Bhattarai maintains that foreign agencyâ€™s report should not be taken lightly and security system should be strengthened.
Security beefed up
Even if international terrorist groups have not directly targeted Nepalis, they can attack foreigners in Nepal, security agencies have warned. A highly placed source said that security agencies have briefed Ministry of Home Affairs about it.
Home Ministry has claimed that security system has been upgraded, assessing sensitivity of the airport.
One officer in the Home Ministry says, â€œSecurity has been beefed up in the airport, given recent threats.â€
Director General (DG) of the Immigration Department Kedar Nyaupane said that even developed countries have security threats and airportâ€™s security arrangements have been strengthened after assessing these threats.
Security sources have claimed that a recent meeting in Home Ministry has decided to adopt high-level security to keep country safe from potential terrorist attacks.
DG Kedar Nyaupane claimed that Nepal has imported modern technology to ward off security threat. He said that Nepal is soon to adopt Advance Passenger Information System that will help nab Nepal-bound criminals in the airport itself.
Home Ministry has increased monitoring of passengers coming to and going out of the country as terrorist attacks can occur any time. Anti-terrorism Cell of Nepal Police has also sprung into action.
Employees in illegal activities
Along with security threat, illegal activities of responsible people have put airport security in risk. Senior Superintendent of Police Raviraj Shrestha was found involved in trafficking foreign currencies and sacked from his job in 2002.
Similarly, Bharat Sanjel who worked as a cleaner in the airport was arrested with US$8,000. Airport administration kept this incident under wraps.
In yet another incident in 2016, Nepal Airlines Engineer Ranjit Lal Bista was arrested for smuggling US$4,450.
Similar incidents have occurred in the past as well.
Incidents of travellersâ€™ luggage being misplaced and lost are normal. Every day travellers come up with these complaints. Security analysts have assessed that illegal activities by responsible people are genuine security threats.
More than 6,000 pass holders
According to Civil Aviation Authority, around 6,000 passes have been distributed to different airlines companies, security agencies, employees of the Authority, hotel staff, bank staff, cleaners and others.
Many others have taken one-day pass as well.
They have been given those passes on the basis of proximity with influential people. Experts have indicated that these pass holders should be closely monitored.
The police had recommended to give away passes judiciously as randomly distributed passes can increase security threats and illegal activities.
But no one has been serious about it. Culture Tourism and Civil Aviation Minister Ananda Prasad Pokharel claimed that his office is upgrading airport management in the backdrop of security threats.
Experts have said that curbing pass holdersâ€™ illegal activities is a big challenge along with smuggling and trafficking.
ByÂ Gajendra Basnet