Former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was twice subjected to frisking at New York’s JFK Airport with U.S. security officials even taking his jacket and shoes to check for explosives.
80-year-old Kalam was in the United States in September this year to attend a series of events and the incident took place while he was returning home from New York on September 29.
Sources said after Mr. Kalam had taken his seat in the aircraft, officials of the JFK Airport came inside and said they wanted to check the former President once again, which was strongly protested by Air India authorities.
But the Airport authorities were adamant about searching the passengers again, the sources said, adding Mr. Kalam did not protest.
“Later, they took away his shoes and jacket much to the dissatisfaction of the Air India authorities. However, they returned them later,” the sources said.
A detailed report on the incident 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.
“As the incident happened on the American soil, I have been informed that US security agencies are investigating it now. Such incidents should not happen,” Civil Aviation Secretary Nasim Zaidi told PTI.
An External Affairs Ministry spokesperson said officials of both the countries were working on ways to avoid recurrence of such incidents in future, including preparing a common list of VIPs.
Sources close to Mr. Kalam said he doesn’t give much thought to such incidents and never complains about them. His office informed the government about the frisking incident. In June 2009, he was frisked and forced to remove his shoes during security check by a U.S. airline. The incident created much uproar following which the carrier apologized to Mr. Kalam.Hindu