'Swedish authorities concerned over army woman's arrest'

Swedish authorities as well as people of that country have voiced concern over the arrest of a Swedish army woman in Goa for possessing a live cartridge while she was boarding a flight for Mumbai Monday.

Inger Kristina Hardinz, an arms instructor in the Swedish army, was boarding Indigo flight GE-196 Monday when a live 5.56 mm cartridge was found in her hand baggage during security check at the Dabolim airport here.

Hardinz told the authorities she had "no idea" how the cartridge had slipped into her luggage. She had arrived in India Dec 23, 2011.

Sweden’s leading English newspaper The Local has quoted several Swedish authorities, including army spokespersons who have expressed their concern over the arrest of Hardinz. The newspaper’s website also published several comments from Swedish citizens who have expressed outrage at the arrest.

"As her employers, we have sent down documentation proving that she is trained and licensed to handle ammunition. However, she is in India for private reasons and is not on a mission requiring her to carry bullets," the newspaper has said, quoting Pia Sandstedt of the Swedish Army Logistics Unit.

The Local also reported that the Swedish army was treating the matter “very seriously” and that “an official request that the Swedish woman be released” had already been lodged with the authorities in India.

Hardinz has been remanded in judicial custody for a fortnight by a local court.

While Pia has also been quoted as saying that Hardinz was “very upset”, Swedish army press secretary Phillip Simon has been quoted as saying: “We are working hard to get her free. We are hoping we will be successful as soon as possible”.

The comments section of The Nation newspaper’s website, however, has a range of comments about the ‘Inger incident’, which range from outrage to concern.

"Bullets are very small and can easily be overlooked when packing and unpacking them. Army people potentially handle thousands of rounds annually. Sometimes civilians do too. A lone bullet in a luggage bag is not a cause for concern," says White_man.

“Her explanation was plausible, and a phone call to the Swedish defence attache should have cleared the matter up quickly. It's the Indians who look like amateurs,” he added.

A comment by Robinhood goes: “I suspect someone in the notoriously corrupt Indian customs service, in this notoriously corrupt province, of this notoriously corrupt country, is looking for a way to make a buck out of this unfortunate soldier.”

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