Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law, Robert Vadra, is still exempt from pat downs at domestic airports as his name continues to be in the “no-frisk list” despite a government announcement that he has been stripped off the privilege.
The latest list of those exempt from security checks does not have Vadra’s name on it and an additional note on the new list says he can bypass security if he chooses to, according to a right-to-information (RTI) response received by data journalism site factly.in.
“The accompanying spouse of the above said VVIPs/VIPs is also exempted from pre-embarkation security checks at all civil airports in the country,” the new note said.
The no-frisking privilege is granted to constitutional figures and those who have elite Special Protection Group (SPG) cover, including Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi - the two top leaders of the Congress party - and her daughter Priyanka.
So if Vadra accompanies his wife Priyanka he is still exempted from pre-embarkation checks.
On September 16, minister of state for civil aviation Mahesh Sharma had said that the order was issued after Vadra himself asked to be removed from the list.
The 46-year old businessman had welcomed the government’s move in a Facebook post and expressed hope that there would be no more political controversies over the privilege extended to him.
“I appreciate that my name will not appear in the VVIP list anymore. I hope this is a dead issue now and will not be used against me,” he said.
The government’s order had come two days after Vadra himself took a jibe at the Narendra Modi government for retaining his name in the VVIP list despite making an issue out of it during the 2014 Lok Sabha election campaign.
As many as 32 categories of people are exempt from pre-embarkation security checks at India’s civilian airports on the basis of protocol, reciprocity/bilateral agreement in respect of foreign dignitaries and security ground, said the RTI response received by factly.in.