By Arun Kumar
Washington, July 24 (IANS): Backing Continental Airlines on the controversial screening of former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, the US agency responsible for security of US transportation systems has made it clear that it cannot accept an Indian list exempting VIPs from security checks.
"There are reports that the government of India has an official list of VIPs and their spouses that are exempt from pre-board screening procedures," said the agency set up after the 9/11 terror strikes under the Department of Homeland Security.
"However, such a list does not mirror US requirements for passengers that are exempted from pre-board screening when travelling aboard US commercial aircraft," it said.
"TSA (Transportation Security Administration) has reviewed the circumstances of Dr. Kalam's travel and confirms that Continental Airlines implemented security measures in compliance with TSA regulations," the agency said commenting on the controversy.
"Dr. Kalam was required to undergo pre-board screening in accordance with the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) regulatory requirements immediately prior to boarding the aircraft," it said referring to the screening of Kalam before boarding the Continental Airlines flight 083 from Delhi to Newark on April 21.
"TSA requires that all passengers and their accessible property are screened for any items listed on the prohibited items list.
"While travelling from an international location to the US on an US commercial aircraft, former heads of state, and other VIPs, are screened according to the same screening procedures as for any other passenger. If requested, private screening can be provided," TSA said.
TSA said it regrets "any inconvenience that Dr. Kalam may have experienced as a result of our standard security requirements. TSA works closely with our international counterparts and our stakeholder air carriers to ensure a safe and secure transportation network."