New Delhi: The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), a US government law enforcement agency, decided to brazen it out on the controversial issue of the frisking of former Indian president, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam by asserting that American carrier Continental Airlines was merely following regulatory requirements.
It reiterated that former heads of state and other VIPs are screened according to the same screening procedures for any other passengers while travelling from an international location to the US on a commercial American aircraft. It said, if requested, private screening could be provided.
The clarification from an US government agency has been made even as a stink was raised in the country's Parliament over the lack of courtesy shown to the former president, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, on 21 April 2009, by frisking him as he boarded Continental Airlines Flight no.CO-083 to Newark from here.
''Mr. Kalam was required to undergo pre-board screening in accordance with the TSA regulatory requirements immediately prior to boarding the aircraft. The TSA requires that all passengers and their accessible property are screened for any items listed on the prohibited items list,'' a statement said.
Commenting on reports that the Government of India has an official list of VIPs and their spouses who are exempted from pre-board screening procedures, the TSA maintained that ''such a list does not mirror the US requirements for passengers who are exempted from pre-board screening when travelling aboard a US commercial aircraft.''
In the case of Dr Kalam, the TSA confirmed that ''the Continental Airlines implemented security measures in compliance with its regulations.'' It regretted any inconvenience that ''Mr. Kalam may have experienced as a result of our standard security requirements.''
Meanwhile, Dr Kalam, who is on a visit to Kerala, said he is ''yet'' to receive an apology from the airline for breaching protocol norms at the Delhi airport. The airline had been quick to announce an apology in an effort to contain possible damage to its public image.
Queried by the media, airline officials have been quoted as saying that they have sent an apology letter to Dr Kalam's Delhi office as directed by his staff. They have also said that they are waiting for Dr Kalam to return to Delhi so that they can apologise to him in person.