Kalam not exempted from security screening: US

Kalam not exempted from security screening: US

In a response to Kalam's frisking at JFK airport, official spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs said it had immediately lodged a protest over the incident after which the US wrote to the former President regretting the episode and assured Indian government that it was taking corrective steps to prevent such events.

Noting that Kalam was a regular visitor to USA and was returning home on September 29 by an Air India flight from New York, he said US authorities have explained that under existing US regulation, former President Abdul Kalam does not fall into the category of persons exempt from security screening.

"However, US authorities extended usual courtesies to him at the airport, including escort and private screening," he said.

After former President Kalam had entered the aircraft, US Transport Security Agency (TSA) agents requested Air India staff for President Kalam's jacket and shoes, reportedly as these had not been checked according to the prescribed procedure during the private screening, the spokesperson said.

Air India staff then sought the consent of Kalam, who had by then removed his jacket and shoes and settled in his seat, to hand them over to TSA authorities, he said, adding these personal belongings of former President Kalam were returned shortly thereafter.

"MEA had immediately lodged a protest over this incident with the US side.

The US Government has promptly written to former President Kalam expressing its deep regret over the incident and has assured Indian authorities that it is taking corrective steps to prevent recurrence of such incidents in the future.

"The two governments are also planning to hold discussions to explore appropriate mechanisms for facilitating airport procedures for dignitaries, in accordance with national regulations," he said.

Later, Indian envoy to US, Nirupama Roy tweeted, "Transport Security Agency (TSA) wrote to me regretting the security screening incident with former President Abdul Kalam and senior TSA representatives came to the Indian Embassy to personally apologise."