Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Nusli Wadia Caught With a Gun in His Suitcase at Dubai Airport

And so we have a case where the very concept of the security level provided by Indian agencies is under question. In an incident a few days back, noted industrialist Nusli Wadia was briefly detained at Dubai Airport after his check-in baggage was found to contain a gun and 30 live bullets. This was dismissed as a one-off case with the usual claims of an enquiry as well as suspension of 1-2 line staff.

I have been watching out to see whether there was any further movement on this case, and the whole case seems to have dropped dead. There is no further discussion, no analysis of how this seems to blow a hole in the security infrastructure.

Read about what actually happened

A revolver and 30 live bullets were recovered from the baggage of noted industrialist Nusli Wadia last week at the Dubai airport where he flew by an Air-India flight from Mumbai, official sources said on Friday. At a time when high alert had been sounded at all airports across the country, security personnel at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai failed to detect the firearm. The lapse that occurred on January 13 prompted Air-India to suspend two of its ground staff and launch an inquiry, the sources said.
And this happened when there is a supposed high level of security in the country, and amid repeated claims by the Prime Minister downwards that India is at the attention of terrorists and that we need to be on our guard.

An argument made that nothing bad really happened, that it was just in the check-in luggage and not in hand luggage, and that it was just an innocent mistake. The problem in such arguments is that having seen this happen, we really don't know how many times something like this happens and goes away undetected.

This incident happened on an international flight, and it could be possible that many incidents happen like this on domestic flights and get away undetected. Travellers can get paranoid when something like this happens.

The other impact of an incident like this, or multiple incidents like this is that other countries will start to doubt the effectiveness of security at Indian airports, and start to impose conditions.

For these reasons, it was necessary that no one down-pedalled such an incident, and promised to figure out how such a thing could happen. No such thing happened, instead a brief flash, and then nothing more. Or is that we only get worried when something bad actually happens ?

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 8:21 PM