Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Should we take the Kalam incident lying down?

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

A day after there was huge uproar in the Parliament regarding the humiliation former President APJ Abdul Kalam at the IGI Airport by Continental Airlines, the airline has issued an apology. The airline had violated the protocol with respect to the Indian laws which exempt dignitaries like former presidents, ex-PMs, and Chief Justice of India from being frisked at airports. Dr. Kalam was made to take off his shoes and undergo a security check at Delhi airport before boarding flight CO 083 to Newark on Apr 21.

The Aviation authority on Tuesday had filed an FIR against Continental Airlines for this violation. Now this apology from the Continental Airlines will come as a welcome relief for the government as the opposition was nailing them over the issue. Also the fact that Dr Kalam did not want to comment on the issue showed that the People's President was upset about the issue. This is not first time that Indian dignitaries have been meted out such treatment by the authorities of United States of America.

In 2003, the then Defence Minister George Fernandes was also made to undergo security screening in the US as the authorities thought kurta-clad Fernandes might pose a threat to their country. Could we have done the same to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her recent visit? Gujarat CM Narendra Modi has been denied a visa as he is accused of conducting genocide in Gujarat. George George Bush's policies surely have taken more lives. Can we deny him a visa citing genocide in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Now the big question arises should we take such things lying down? Many would argue that since Continental has issued an apology the case should rest. But shall we accept such treatment by foreigners in our own land in the name of security. Its a well known fact that America has created a cloud of insecurity around itself to wage wars against defenceless nations like Iraq and Afganisthan but under no circumstance should we become victims for their questionable security measures.

The Indian Government should not close the case and be content with the apology. If Dr. Kalam can be treated in such a manner what about an ordinary Indian flying to US? This is a clear case of exploitation by a country due to its superiority attitude. The issue concerns the honour and pride of individuals who travel to such countries everyday. The Indian Government has no right to play this down in the name of diplomacy.


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