Airport police in India have been told to tone down their smiles while on the job as part of an anti-terror crackdown on airport security.
Rajesh Ranjan, head of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), which is in charge of aviation safety in India, said that security staff must take care to be “more vigilant than friendly” in their dealings with the public.
In the past, the agency - responsible for security at the country’s 60 major commercial airports - “has always emphasised the need to improve soft skills to make security checks passenger-friendly and welcoming”, says the Indian Express.
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However, growing concern about India’s expanding commercial aviation sector and its vulnerability to terrorism has prompted a rethink.
Officials “are said to believe that excessive friendliness puts airports at risk of terrorist attacks”, the BBC reports.
To encourage a sterner approach, CISF officers will be instructed to move from a “broad smile system” to a “sufficient smile system”, the agency has said.
Personnel will also receive training in behavioural analysis to help them spot suspicious passengers.
Ranjan even suggested that over-emphasis on customer service had left the US vulnerable to the 9/11 attacks, which he said was partly caused by “an excessive reliance on passenger-friendly features”.
The security chief made the comments during a two-day seminar on aviation security hosted in New Delhi, The Indian Express reports.
In a separate appearance at the conference, India’s home minister, Rajnath Singh, warned that terrorist are constantly “pushing the limits” to find ways to compromise aviation safety and called for “untiring and sincere efforts to maintain fool-proof security”.
India’s airports are “struggling to cope” with a six-fold increase in passenger numbers over the past decades, NDTV reports, and “analysts have warned that the government needs to spend billions of dollars to boost capacity and safety”.
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