- The woman was accompanied by her granddaughter and they had a flight to Delhi
- Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia has also responded to the complainant
- CISF has issued an apology to Chandran over social media
The CISF has suspended a woman constable after it received a complaint that an 80-year-old wheel-chair bound woman passenger, who had undergone a hip implant, was allegedly strip-searched at the Guwahati airport during security checks on Thursday. The woman was accompanied by her granddaughter at the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport, and they had a flight to Delhi.
The paramilitary force that guards the Guwahati airport and 64 other civil airports in the country issued an official Tweet saying, "Security and dignity of needy pax (passenger) go hand in hand. CISF has already started enquiry in connection with the unfortunate incident at Guwahati airport." "The concerned personnel has been suspended. DIG CISF has spoken with the passenger," it said.
Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia also responded to the complainant over Twitter saying, he is also "looking into this".
The force tagged the daughter of the woman, Dolly Kikon, on the post who had raised the complaint over Twitter and tagged the handles of the force and Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma among others.
"@CISFHQrs My 80 year old disabled mom was made to strip at the CISF security check at Guwahati airport. The security personnel wanted “proof” of her titanium hip implant and forced her to undress. @himantabiswa @guwahatiplus @GuwahatiAirport. Is that how we treat seniors," Kikon posted.
In another Tweet, she sai, "It is disgusting! My 80 year old disabled mother was forced to pull down her undergarment and get naked. Why? Why?" Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) officials said the personnel concerned had asked the woman to pull down her lower body garments as the detector beeped, indicating metal on a person's body.
"As per preliminary inputs, the CISF personnel on duty followed the standard operating procedure laid down in such circumstances.
"As there was a metal piece indicator on, she asked the lady passenger to undergo physical checking and show her the hip implant area so that she can corroborate the passenger's version of having undergone surgery," a senior officer said. However, a probe is being conducted to find if the personnel did not treat the passenger with respect or was there any other lapse, he added.
Officials said the CISF control room reviewed the CCTV footage of the airport and found that the passenger left the woman frisking booth in less than two minutes. The woman's daughter also claimed in her social media post that her niece who was accompanying the octogenarian had filled up a complaint form but the CISF personnel took it away, claiming that it was not allowed.
A spokesperson of the Guwahati airport told PTI that the passenger with reduced mobility was requested to go through the mandatory security screening but as she had a metal plate attached to her hip bone, the CISF team asked her to go for further checks. "The authorities politely explained to the passenger about the mandatory security protocol and the matter was sorted out. The octogenarian passenger was initially irritated but later she understood the matter and left for her destination in a happy mood," the spokesperson said.
In a similar incident in November last year, noted dancer and actor Sudhaa Chandran had issued a video statement saying she felt "humiliated" when she was asked by a CISF personnel at the Mumbai airport to remove her artificial limb.
The CISF had then issued an apology to Chandran over social media saying, "As per protocol, prosthetics are to be removed for security checks only under exceptional circumstances." "We assure Ms. Sudhaa Chandran that all our personnel will be sensitised again on the protocols so that no inconvenience is caused to travelling passengers," the CISF had said.
The force later said it will create a committee of all stakeholders at all civil airports under its work and these panels will work to address travel-related issues of differently-abled passengers even as there will be an "increased focus" on sensitising security personnel for handling such category of travellers.