Insult to Dr. Abdul Kalam Was An Insult to Indian Nation

Frisking of Kalam By Airlines Staff Was An Unpardonable Act: Suspend Continental Airlines Operation Forthwith

No explanation and no aplogy are acceptable for their disgusting behaviour in frisking away OUR own Bharat Ratna Kalam, that to happened on our soil. in New Delhi. As Praful Patel rightly said this act of frisking was absolutely unpardonable.

As expected, a massive flap erupted in Parliament on Tuesday over the issue that the former president, APJ Abdul Kalam, was frisked by US Continental Airlines officials. Everyone in the parliament joined together to condemned the act.

A massive backlash is expected in the the country in the days to come until a more severe action is taken against the airlines by the authorities. Accordingly, aviation authorities sought a report on the issue where the Bharat Ratna holder ex-president and a world renowned scientist AJP Abdul Kalam, was made to remove his shoes and undergo a humiliating body check at Delhi airport before being allowed to board a flight CO063 to New York on April 21.

What is unbelievable is that the incident happened in April and it is only being brought to our notice today. Also baffling is the fact that an airline operating from Indian soil was unaware of Indian laws that exempt dignitaries like former presidents, ex-PMs, CJI including Robert Vadra from being frisked at the airport.

What is intriguing was the necessity to insist on a body check of such a high dignitary as Kalam, whatever may be the threat perception and rule of the airlines for security reasons. The airlines cannot suspect the ex-president to carry arms or weapons on his person. This is an absolutely shameful act on their part. It is not only an insult to Kalam but to the nation as a whole. This is a serious breach of protocol and it should be dealt with seriously.

All political parties have condemned this incident and demanded severe action against the official of the airlines concerned, besides suspending the airline’s operation from India.

The Aviation Ministry was in damage control and ordered an enquiry with a promise to take action. The Aviation Ministry has already issued a show cause notice to the airlines as there was a serious breach of protocol. If convicted, the employees concerned would be sent to jail for a term exceeding 2 years and a fine of Rs.10 lakh for causing an insult to the ex-president. The Continenetal airline officials were quick to reiterate their rules showing no exemption to VVIPs in frisking them for security checks. George Fernando, who underwent an extensive body check while in the US, demanded action against the airline staff. The BJP called it a conspiracy against India, while Jayanthi Natarajan of the Congress demanded suspension of operation of the airline till the enquiry is completed and action taken against the erring officials.

The question arises here as to why it took so long to report the incident and why this was not revealed when Hillary Clinton was here. Now that the incident has happened, the Government should take up the issue with their counterparts in the US and other European countries to amend the protocol to including ex-presidents, ex-prime ministers of India for exemption from frisking them at airports whenever they visit those countries, whether it is personal or official business. This is important. People of this country felt humiliated at the treatment meted out to Kalam in our own soil in the capital. We will not rest until some tangible action is taken against all concerned so that other airlines especially foreign airlines should not repeat the mistake in future. Jai Hind.

A.M. Jamsheed Basha
A.M. Jamsheed Basha is a Chennai-based columnist, political commentator, who writes on matters of importance, political, social and self-improvement.