An 80-year-old Nagaland woman in a wheelchair was allegedly strip-searched during a CISF security check at the airport on Thursday, as per authorities, who said she was asked to go through a mandatory screening because a metal plate was attached to her hip bone.
Dolly Kikon, the elderly woman’s daughter, said that her mother, who had hip replacement surgery last year, was on her way to Delhi from here with her granddaughter.
Meanwhile, Mhalo Kikon’s daughter Dolly Kikon, a well-known anthropologist from Nagaland, claimed that the CISF forced her crippled mother to strip at Guwahati airport.
Even after the elderly woman repeatedly stated that she had a hip implant, a CISF security woman at Lokpriyo Gopinath International Airport allegedly asked her to remove her clothes, including her underwear, after metal detectors triggered an alarm.
Dolly claimed that her niece, who was accompanying the octogenarian, had filled out a complaint form, but that it was taken away by CISF personnel who claimed it was not allowed.
The passenger with reduced mobility was asked to go through the mandatory security screening, but because she had a metal plate attached to her hip bone, the CISF team asked her to go for additional checks, according to a Guwahati airport spokesperson.
Sharing the news on Twitter, Dolly Kikon wrote, “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.”
“Someone please help! The CISF security personnel team at @GuwahatiAirport are harassing my niece who is taking care of my mother. They have taken away the complaint form she has written. They DID not allow her to take a screenshot saying it’s “allowed”. My mom is distressed,” Kikon added in another tweet.
Moreover, as other people on Twitter expressed outrage at the CISF’s conduct, the official handle of Guwahati International Airport apologised to Dolly Kikon, “Dear Ma’am, we sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused to your mother. We take your feedback seriously.”
CISF’s actions sparked outrage on Twitter
Following Dolly Kikon’s tweets, a CISF official in Guwahati said they had launched an investigation. “This will also help us conduct all security procedures without causing discomfort to passengers,” he added.
Meanwhile, according to Diethono Nakhro, Nagaland’s state commissioner for Persons with Disabilities (PwDs), most security personnel on the ground don’t even have a basic understanding of how to treat disabled travellers respectfully and dignifiedly.
“Atrocious and unacceptable. And this is happening despite clear screening guidelines as well as the many consultations that CISF authorities have had with organisations of disabled people and other NGOs. Why are personnel on the ground not being sensitised and trained properly? Once an incident gets highlighted we get a lip service apology and then it happens again. Enough is enough, strong action needs to be taken,” she said.
Following the incident, the CISF clarified on its official Twitter account that security and the dignity of needy passengers go hand in hand.
The Adani Group, which manages operations at Guwahati airport, later issued a statement about the incident. “A lady passenger with reduced mobility, aged about 80 years travelling from Guwahati to Delhi while going through pre-embarkation security check, had to undergo mandatory security screening procedure as she had a metal plate placed in her hip bone. The procedure made the passenger uncomfortable and she lodged a complaint with CISF. Her daughter tweeted about the incident on social media. Later on, the complainant visited the airport and discussed it with DC, CISF and Chief Airport Officer.”
“In a later tweet, the complainant thanked the airport for giving assurances to look into the matter. At Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoi International Airport we place the safety and security of all our passengers as the topmost priority with utmost care and empathy,” the group said.
The safety and dignity of those in need go hand in hand. The CISF has already begun an investigation into the unfortunate incident at the Guwahati airport. The personnel in question has been suspended with pay. The passenger has been spoken to by DIG CISF.
Officials from the CISF previously stated that the personnel on duty followed the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).
“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,” she said.
“We place the safety and security of all our passengers as a topmost priority”, the spokesperson added. Calls to the CISF commandant stationed at the airport went unanswered repeatedly.