Actor Shah Rukh Khan’s detention at a US airport last year may have caused outrage in India, but actress Koena Mitra’s equally harrowing experience at the Bangalore airport this week went unnoticed.
Koena says she was on her way to Mumbai from Bangalore after attending the Fashion Week there on Sunday, when the airport security personnel asked her to remove her T-shirt. The personnel also asked her to explain why she was wearing a torn jeans, checked if her hair was real and felt her “hard” while frisking.
Koena says, “Three girls in uniform, clearly in a mood to bully me since I am a celebrity, called me to the frisking room. They asked me why I was wearing torn jeans and told me, ‘Youngsters look upto you, you are a trendsetter, why do you do such things?’”
“Even when they were frisking me, they were feeling me very hard right from my shoulders to the back pockets. Suddenly, one of them held my fringes and asked me if my hair was real.
They refused to sign my boarding pass till I took off my hooded T-shirt and put it in the X-ray machine. When I refused to do that, they called a senior official, who said, ‘You want to fly or are you going to stay here’?”
Koena further says, “While I stood without my boots, another security person standing seven machines away asked me to come and identify my suitcase. But the women refused to give my boots, so I had to walk around bare feet while people stared at me strangely.”
Interestingly, amidst all this stringent checking, security officials failed to notice a pair of scissors, a nail-filer and three bottles of perfume that Koena was carrying, clearly flouting the security norms. “While they were worrying about my torn jeans, hooded T-shirt and hair, they forgot to check my handbag, which had a scissors, a nail-filer and three bottles of perfume, when only one is allowed. No one even noticed it,” says Koena.
When contacted,the Bangalore Airport authority officials expressed shock and denied having any knowledge about the incident. They said they would “look into the matter”.