Hands off

Frisking remains a fraught issue,everywhere exposing insecurities

Written by The Indian Express | Published:May 21, 2013 12:31 am

Frisking remains a fraught issue,everywhere exposing insecurities

Location,location,location” is not only a seller’s mantra,it appears. In government,too,location seems to condition beliefs. Election Commissioner S.N.A. Zaidi has requested the ministry of civil aviation to add his name to the no-frisk list of VIPs. His argument is a valid syllogism: the chief election commissioner is on the list,so are Supreme Court judges,all election commissioners are at par with each other and with Supreme Court judges,so QED. But this is a curious example of enlightened self-interest. After all,when Zaidi was civil aviation secretary last year,he had made a strong case for pruning the very list he now wants to swell.

By all accounts,frisking remains a fraught issue with us,exposing insecurities everywhere. When our VIPs get patted down in the US,we scream racial profiling. When Abdul Kalam or Amit Chaudhuri draw the searching attention of Homeland Security,the opportunity to rant is really too good to pass up. Tempers run high when flying squads of the Election Commission get frisky,too. Weeks before Zaidi filed his request,Mayawati complained to the EC of gender and caste bias,having been searched twice while campaigning in Karnataka. The EC protested that the second shakedown would have been unnecessary if Mayawati had not snatched back the Rs 1 lakh that the first search had revealed,and prevented it from being counted.

But seriously,what these controversies reveal is disturbing. Frisking was instituted as an airline safety measure but exemption has become a prestige issue. The mindset that turned personal security officers and car roof lights into extra-large bling has opened up yet another front.

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