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Former  President of India, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam was frisked at the IGI Delhi Airport by the officials of Continental  Airlines while he was leaving Delhi for Newark on the Continental flight  on 21st. April 2009. The matter has come to light only yesterday..

The officials of the CISF  said  that they did not frisk  Kalam, but those who did, were officials of the Continental Airlines. They forced him to wait on the aerobridge at the directive of the boss of Continental Airlines.

Pandemonium broke out in the Parliament house where the opposition demanded a thorough probe into the matter.  The Minister of Civil Aviation, Praful  Patel informed the House that a show cause notice had already been served on the Airline and an FIR has also been lodged in this respect.

Kalam was not only frisked, but had to hand over his cell phone and wallet and kept them in the  bowl,  placed on the conveyor belt and screened through the X-Ray machine. Not only this, he was asked by the Airline officials to remove his footwear also.

This is totally humiliating and outrageous as Kalam is the Ex-President of India, a renowned space scientist, a well known figure in the entire world and a down to earth person. He did not show any resistance and gladly let the Airlines officials go about their drill.

The Airlines spokesperson said that they have no separate checking drills for VIPs or VVIPs and they  refused to apologize. On the contrary, Patel said that any airline operating in India is given a set of guidelines which includes that  President, Prime Minister, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, past and present ,  will not be frisked by any Airlines official when they are travelling abroad.

Ms Jayanti Natarajan, spokesperson for the Congress in an interview with the CNN-IBN TV News Channel said that, “This is highly condemnable. The External Affairs Ministry should also take up the matter with the US authorities. I totally blame the Airline as they have violated Sec 11 of the Act. Everyone appreciates the national outrage that followed after leaking of this report. Airlines have to follow the rules of the country in which they  are operating. The Airlines should be punished and their operations suspended”.

“Ironically this comes a day after the Clinton’s visit.. Kalam was treated as a commoner in stark contrast as compared to the treatment which would have been given , if the passenger would have been  a former US President”, said the Editor of CNN -IBN News Channel.

This is indeed a shameless act on the part of the Airline and should be dealt with firmly. If they treat the Ex-President of the country like this, how will they treat the ordinary Indian passenger.

After receiving the show cause notice, the Airline has apologized to Dr. Kalam and also re-iterated the fact that they had done nothing wrong. Isn’t this too little too late?


Ravi Matah