Industrialist Nusli Wadia was detained and questioned for about 45 minutes at the Dubai airport for carrying a firearm and 30 live bullets in his baggage without informing the airlines or airport authorities.
The Bombay Dyeing Chairman, apparently unaware of the revolver and bullets in his baggage, was questioned after disembarking from a Mumbai-Dubai Air India flight on January 13. At the time, he was not carrying his gun licence. According to family sources, Wadia was released and is still in Dubai.
However, what is more significant is that security checks at Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji airport failed to detect the revolver and the bullets. In a statement, Air India said: "The person who was in charge of handling the X-ray screening of (Wadia's) baggage has been suspended. We are investigating the matter."
The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS), responsible for enforcing aviation security across the country, said the matter should be probed by Air India. "As per rules, a passenger must declare any licenced weapon to the airline. Since he (Wadia) failed to do so, Air India must question him," said BCAS regional deputy commissioner P Mohanan.
Bombay Dyeing termed the incident 'freak' and said in a statement: "Since he (Nusli Wadia) had to leave in a hurry, he asked his help at home to pack his bags. The help inadvertently packed a wash bag containing a licenced firearm, lying in his closet. It was very similar to the one containing his washroom articles… At the Mumbai airport, the bag was checked in and security procedures were followed."
When the revolver and the bullets were detected at Dubai airport, Wadia was detained and questioned. "He promptly called home… His gun licence papers were faxed to Dubai. Satisfied, the Dubai authorities permitted him to leave the airport," the statement added.
Wadia himself was unavailable for comment. His spokesperson in Mumbai blamed Air India and said: "If he was aware of the gun, he could have carried his licence."
Dubai airport authorities have seized the revolver and the bullets. Wadia has been given a receipt and must collect the items on his departure. "It is evident that this is a freak accident," the company statement said.
The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) — responsible for maintaining security at the airport — said Wadia would not be detained when he returns.
"Nobody has informed us about the matter so far. We don't check passengers who arrive here," said senior CISF Commandant Sanjiv Prakash.
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