Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Despite having special lock, bag ripped open for checking at Bengaluru airport

The trolley bag of a passenger, who landed at Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) from the US, was allegedly ripped open by Customs sleuths. This despite it being shut with a transportation security administration (TSA) lock, for which security agencies had the master key. Not just that, the luggage was said to be abandoned near a conveyor belt.

The flyer, an IT engineer, has now raised a complaint with the airport authorities, questioning how his bag could be opened illegally.

Marathahalli resident Krishna Prasad had flown to Illinois, US, seven months ago on an IT assignment and returned to India early Saturday.

He landed at Bengaluru airport on an Emirates flight (EK 546) from Dubai (where he had to transit). “I had a really long and annoying immigration clearance experience at Bengaluru airport on Saturday morning. Finally, when I reached the conveyor belt to collect my luggage, there was a shocker awaiting me,” said Prasad, who claimed that he spotted his black bag tossed on the floor with a few other bags and its zip open.

“Someone tried to open it but clearly due to the TSA lock they couldn’t. Thereafter, the zip was ripped open and when they found only some sweets, art items and children’s books inside, they abandoned it. When I questioned the airport staff nearby, they said Customs officials had checked the bag and would have left a note on it. But I found none,” said the 36-year-old passenger, who was forced to bundle up the bag as the zip had completely come off .

TSA locking system is a global security feature for flight passengers that permits airport security agencies across the globe and India to open bags of suspicious nature using a master key, which often remains in possession of agencies such as Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and the Indian Customs here.

In Prasad’s case, it is alleged that despite the TSA lock, Customs sleuths inspected the luggage by cutting open the zip. “If the accusation is true, it is illegal on the part of Customs officials to have opened the passenger’s bag in such a manner. Usually, the master key remains with CISF personnel and can be sought by Customs officials on duty in case of the requirement to open a luggage for security reasons,” said a senior airport official.

25/05/22 Petlee Peter/Times of India

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