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Kalam frisked by American airline at Delhi airport

In a breach of protocol, the former president, who is exempted from security checks due to his status, was frisked by the staff of Continental Airlines.

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Kalam frisked by American airline at Delhi airport
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In a breach of protocol, former president APJ Abdul Kalam, who is exempted from security checks due to his status, was frisked by an American airline at the international airport here before boarding the aircraft.

The civil aviation ministry has ordered a probe into the incident involving the ground security staff of Continental Airlines which subjected Kalam to security check before he was to board a Newark-bound flight on April 24.

"The incident took place on April 24 at the Indira Gandhi international airport when Kalam was travelling to the US. He was treated like an ordinary passenger," sources close to Kalam said.

They said Kalam did not take up the issue with the government. "It is the airline policy to check everyone. They never listen to any Indian agency," they said.

Civil aviation minister Praful Patel said the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) is investigating the matter and action will be taken against whosoever is found responsible.

"I just got to know about the incident. We will ask for corrective action and we will ask the concerned people to apologise," he told reporters here.

Describing the incident as a "normal security procedure", the airline public relations officer Aparna said "there is no special rule for VIPs and VVIPs. This is the process the airline adheres to."

The former president also had to "surrender" before the staff for a complete body check, the sources claimed.

Aparna said Kalam was "very cooperative" and "he happily underwent the entire process".

DIG CISF (airport security) Udyan Banerjee said the first level of security check, which is conducted by the force, was waived but a second level of checking is done by the airlines.

This is not for the first time an Indian VIP has been frisked at an airport. Last year, the then external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee was frisked at Moscow airport. In 2003, the then defence minister George Fernandes was also made to undergo security screening in the US.
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