Seer frisked, followers cry foul
Disciples of spiritual leader Asaram Bapu caused a furore at Delhi airport on Monday morning when they set up a strident protest against personnel of Jet Airways.india Updated: Feb 14, 2006 02:07 IST
Disciples of spiritual leader Asaram Bapu caused a furore at Delhi airport on Monday morning when they set up a strident protest against personnel of Jet Airways.
The large number of followers of Bapu had gathered at the airport to receive him on his return from the Shabari Kumbh at Subir in Gujarat's Dangs district. Thy were told by the disciples accompanying Bapu that he had been frisked twice at Ahmedabad airport, upon which they began an impromptu demonstration demanding action against the airlines' security.
Timely intervention by senior personnel of the airlines and a written apology issued later to Bapu helped to contain the situation, which had threatened to turn ugly.
According to sources at Ahmedabad airport, Bapu had been selected for a random 'second frisking' by the Central Industrial Police Force (CISF), who are in charge of airport security since the IC 814 hijack in 1999.
"The random check is irrespective of whether the passenger has cleared security," the official said, "even the airlines don't have any idea where the check will happen, or on which airline."
Interestingly, the devotees who were accompanying Bapu claimed it was the Jet officials who insisted on the frisking, not CISF.
Raja Goyal, media coordinator of Sant Asharamji Bapu Asram said, "There was no problem from the CISF personnel. Jet Airways insulted Bapuji by insisting for a frisking. This was the first time that somebody wanted to physically check Bapuji. He never allowed anybody to touch him. So Bapuji told the Jet Airways staff to check his belongings without touching him, but the airlines' insisted they have been told by the government to do so."
In the whole exchange, the flight was delayed by over an hour.
Goyal added that "Bapuji has been a frequent flier by different airlines and nobody has ever frisked him. Recently he even went to Pakistan and he was never checked. We are offended by the behaviour of the airlines staff. This is sheer harassment."
At the end of the day, Jet Airways COO Peter Luethi send a written apology for the entire episode, and the mollified Bapu supporters dispersed. Airport officials said the incident did not affect flights.