Reports say that Continental Airlines have apologized for publicly frisking Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, former President of India and a world renowned scientist while he was boarding their Flight CO-083 on April 21. The expression of regret seems to be run-of-the-mill stuff – no offense meant, this is our policy, do fly with us again.
The incident took place not in
One can understand
Some of the Americans are prone to develop a mindset that leans towards phobia. In the 1950s there was Senator Joseph McCarthy looking under carpets for Communists. The level of this Red Scare rose to such alarming proportions that an old baseball team, Cincinnati Reds, even had to change its name!
So much for the Americans. But what about the Indian officials at the airport? Dr. Kalam reportedly asked them not to make an issue of the incident. That, an expression of his magnanimity and humility, was only his personal opinion. The situation involved national pride. Possibly the Indian security men on the spot did not have the confidence to act. So they took the escape route – reported the matter to the higher authorities, in this case the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS).
I would like to imagine how a Head Constable from the erstwhile Travancore Police would have handled the situation. (Travancore was a former native state and is now part of
Maybe all that is not exactly according to the specific rules. But wasn’t there someone at the airport with the authority to prevent the flight from taking off till the Commander of the aircraft or a senior airline official apologized? That would have inconvenienced the passengers including Dr. Kalam, but justifiable in a matter of National honor. It doesn’t matter to us how the Americans treat their past Presidents, but we respect them.
And what did the BCAS do? Weeks later they sent a show cause notice to the airlines. That was reportedly ignored. Only when the issue came up before the Parliament, did the BCAS rush to file an FIR. I am of the view that the entire episode should be thoroughly investigated and appropriate action taken.
There was an ‘opinion’ piece in a major National newspaper which said that we have too many VVIPs floating around. I agree. But that is not the point. As long as a person is on the list, he should be given the prescribed treatment.
The entire nation stands by Dr. Kalam. Such is the esteem the country has for him.