Ministry objects to ‘armtwisting’ by US aviation body
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Invoking "sovereignty of state", the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation has objected to, what it calls, "armtwisting" by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), its counterpart in the US.
In March 2011, the TSA had directed all carriers flying to the US from India to comply with security procedures followed in the US with regard to deployment of employees and guards in the checked baggage and cargo area. It had also asked all carriers to notify any "incident" to TSA.
On May 25, it issued instructions regarding screening of cargo items, set norms for Explosive Trace Detection and for TSA-approved Explosive Detecting Canines and penalised a private Indian carrier for alleged failure to implement TSA regulations at Mumbai and Chennai airports.
Calling this "interference in the internal matters of India", Secretary, Civil Aviation, Nasim Zaidi, wrote to Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai in October requesting him to take up the matter with the US authorities to "avoid any diplomatic impasse".
Zaidi flagged the following issues to Mathai with his recommendations:
* TSA should respect the list of Indian dignitaries at Indian airports, referring to the frisking of former President A P J Abdul Kalam.
* TSA should not directly communicate with any Indian air carriers.
* TSA should not issue any directive or emergency amendments to be followed at Indian airports to Indian carriers operating flights from India to the US.
Zaidi also warned that India would hit back with the rule book too, pointing out that the US doesn't follow international obligations to screen all airport passholders before they enter retricted areas.
Zaidi confirmed having written to the Ministry of External Affairs over the TSA directives. The issue will figure at the India Aviation Security Work Group meeting next month.