A Loophole in Airport Security?

Tashi Wangmo, Thimphu

Calling it ‘a big security leak,’ the ministry of information and communication (MoIC) is conducting a fresh probe into Aum Sonam Choden’s case. Earlier this month, she was held by security personnel at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi for carrying 10 bullets of AK-47.
“This is very unfortunate and a serious matter that invites strong legal consequences. It could have tarnished the reputation and bond between the two countries,” said the information and communication minister, DN Dungyel, during the Meet-the-Press session.
He mentioned that two investigations are being carried out on the sidelines. While police officials are interrogating Aum Sonam Choden and trying to establish facts from her side, a team of officials from MoIC and concerned authorities are probing the leak in security service at Paro airport.
“In this case, Sonam Choden is at fault because she should have checked her baggage before boarding the flight. Security personnel at Paro Airport are also at equal fault because they didn’t perform their duties diligently. How could they assume that it was ‘coins’ when the luggage was scanned?” said the Prime Minister, Tshering Tobgay.
“But we cannot give the details of this case as investigations are underway,” said the MoIC minister.
According to the Prime Minister, henceforth, the government will not tolerate such incidents. “Actions had been taken against the security personnel but hereafter, serious actions will be taken against those people. They may have to be axed without any benefits, and if need be we will move them to the court.”
A preliminary report states that Sonam Choden, who was travelling to New York, was escorted by a police official the day she boarded the flight from Paro. Further, BAFRA official received her and even waived off excess baggage fees.
The Prime Minister met with the security officials on 4th April over the issue and reminded them of their responsibilities. “You all have immensely responsibility. Apart from stretching security measures, you have to work to ensure a conducive environment for the travellers,” he said.
Meanwhile, talks are doing rounds in the towns that this incident is an eye-opener. “It is not just a mistake. There is something big going down in the shadows. We have heard of drugs and gold being smuggled but never heard of someone trying to sneak out bullets from Bhutan,” said a businessman, Tshering Dorji.
He mentioned that this is embarrassment for Bhutan and its people.“It will be interesting to know how these bullets got into her luggage.”
Transporting arms and ammunitions to any foreign nations is deemed as a serious threat and is liable for serious consequences. However, considering the friendly diplomatic ties between Bhutan and India, Sonam Choden was let off.

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