Kalam frisked at New York Airport
US Tenders Written Apology
New Delhi, Nov 13: Former Indian president APJ Abdul Kalam was frisked by the John F Kennedy airport authorities in New York, resulting in a strong Indian protest and a subsequent US apology for the breach of protocol.
Kalam, who was in the US to attend a series of events, was returning home by an Air India flight when the airport authorities boarded the aircraft to frisk the former Indian president, who had already occupied his seat. Kalam did not object and subjected himself to the security check, officials said.
Despite strong protest by Air India officials the airport authorities searched passengers again. Dr Kalam sat through and did not protest, sources said adding: "Later, they took away his shoes and jacket much to the dissatisfaction of the Air India officials. However, they returned them later."
Meanwhile, quarters close to Dr Kalam said that normally he prefers not to give much credence to such incidents and never complains about them. However, this time, his office informed the Ministry of External Affairs about the incident after he returned here.
Following his complaint, a detailed report was prepared by Air India's Director (Security) S Mathur and sent to the Civil Aviation Ministry which in turn forwarded it to the External Affairs Ministry in October for further action.
The MEA source said that the officials of both the countries were working on ways to avoid recurrence of such incidents in future, including preparing a common list of VIPs.
This is the second time Dr Kalam has been frisked by an American airline. On April 21, 2009, the former President was frisked by the staff of Continental Airlines at Delhi airport. It had also led to a huge uproar and the issue was debated in Parliament also. The airline and the US government had later apologized to Dr Kalam following a similar Indian protest.
In a written apology to Dr Kalam and the Indian Government, the US administration admitted that “appropriate procedure for expedited screening of dignitaries had not been followed”. They further said that US was actively working out a system to prevent occurrence of such incident in the future.
The US apology came after strong protests registered by the Indian Government. The External Affairs Minister SM Krishna had asked India's envoy to Washington, Nirupama Rao, to take up the issue at the highest level. "This is unacceptable and is being taken very seriously by us," Krishna had said.
Significantly, Krishna had also asked Rao to convey to the American administration that India may have to reciprocate in case remedial measures were not taken by them. The octogenarian Dr Kalam had visited the United States in September last to attend a series of events. The incident took place while he was returning home from New York on September 29.
According to the sources, Krishna also sought a detailed report from its mission into the incident which they said was unacceptable. They further said that if this continues, there is a possibility of reciprocating as per diplomatic norms.
Lastupdate on : Sun, 13 Nov 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 13 Nov 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 14 Nov 2011 00:00:00 IST
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