Finger at 'ego clash' behind airport death

Kerala police question 10 CISF and fire force men

By Our Special Correspondent in Thiruvananthapuram
  • Published 12.06.15
A policeman stands guard near the blood-stained scuffle site at Karipur International Airport in Kozhikode. (PTI)

Thiruvananthapuram, June 11: Kerala police today questioned nearly a dozen CISF and fire service personnel in connection with last night's fatal airport scuffle but nothing concrete appears to have emerged yet amid hints that long-running ego tensions may have finally boiled over.

A senior customs official at Karipur International Airport said he believed the quarrel was the result of this clash of egos. "It had been boiling for a long time. While the CISF thinks it owns the airport, the airports authority thinks it is in charge," the official told The Telegraph .

S.S. Yadav, a CISF jawan, died when a gun went off after a war of words over frisking spun out of control.

None of the 10 men questioned today had been detained till evening. Three other men said to have been in the thick of the row - Sitaram Choudhary, a CISF sub-inspector; Sunny Thomas, a senior superintendent with the fire and rescue service, and his colleague Ajikumar - are admitted in a hospital. None of them has been arrested either.

Officials remained tight-lipped, saying they would wait for the inquiry report, while some wondered if the clash had anything to do with smuggling rackets, given that the airport was a major transit point for gold smuggling from West Asia.

CCTV visuals reportedly show two fire force men - Thomas and Ajikumar - quarrelling with Choudhary, and Yadav apparently trying to cool tempers. Thomas is said to have been annoyed after being stopped at the gates despite being in uniform, although frisking is standard procedure at this point.

When Choudhary pulled out a pistol, the fire force men tried to snatch it from him. In the ensuing scuffle, the gun went off, the bullet entering Yadav's skull though the jaw region.

Officials said central intelligence sources had reported that the shot was fired by the fire force personnel but CCTV footage has not been conclusive.

The customs official said his department had asked the CISF, a paramilitary force tasked with protecting sensitive establishments, to frisk anyone coming through the exit gate after a security assistant was caught aiding gold smugglers last year.

Even airhostesses and other airline employees are frisked at the exit gates, said another, wondering why the fire force personnel wanted to be exempted from the search.

Sources said sub-inspector Choudhary, one of the two CISF men on duty at the time, insisted on thorough frisking of whoever entered or left the airport. This had led to some issues in the past with airport personnel who come under the airports authority.