Outrage over Kalam frisking; Continental gets show-cause

Taking a serious note of the frisking of former President A P J Abdul Kalam at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, the government has slapped a show cause notice to the US-based Continental Airlines for violating protocol.

"Not only the preliminary inquiry has been ordered but we also have a preliminary report, on the basis of which the Continental Airlines has been issued a show cause notice why action for wilful violation should not be taken," civil aviation minister Praful Patel told an agitated Rajya Sabha today.

Patel was responding to the anguish expressed by the entire house, including deputy chairman K Rahman Khan, over the ''humiliation'' of the Bharat Ratna awardee, whom they described as a national hero.

Earlier on 14 April, in what is seen as a clear violation of protocol, the former president, who is exempt from security checks, was treated like an ordinary passenger and frisked by the ground staff of Continental Airlines, reportedly at the insistence of the company's American boss. Kalam was on his way to Newark.

Kalam was reportedly forced to wait on the aerobridge even as the airlines security personnel debated whether to put him under the security scanner or not. Kalam was asked to surrender before the security officials for a complete body check and remove his footwear as well.

The Delhi government filed a first information report before the police against the airlines today morning. "The frisking was absolutely unpardonable," Patel said in the Rajya Sabha. "Action will be taken in accordance with the sentiments of the house."