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Aviation minister carries matchboxes on flight, says he is exempted from frisking

"I don't know. I carry a matchbox in my pocket. Even now, here also, I carry it. There is no secret (about it)", said Raju.

By: ENS Economic Bureau | New Delhi |
Updated: April 8, 2015 3:25:18 am

Civil  Aviation Minister Pusapati Ashok Gajapathi Raju on Tuesday stirred a controversy by admitting that he, in a violation of security rules, carries matchboxes on flights. Raju, a chain smoker, said since he assumed charge as a minister, he is not frisked anymore, and hence, he could now save his lighters and matchboxes while boarding flights.

“I am a heavy smoker so my matchboxes come along with me which earlier used to get confiscated,” Raju said at an event of the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security. The minister further questioned how a matchbox could become a security threat. “You can’t hijack a plane with a matchbox,” the minister said, adding, “I haven’t come across any incident worldwide where a matchbox had led to any threat.”

Aviation rules do not allow anyone to carry matchboxes and lighters on-board flights.

Raju further emphasised that security needs to be made “more meaningful without being obtrusive or without obstructing economic activities.” Raju is a senior leader of the TDP, an NDA ally.

Govt plans to make psychometric tests mandatory for crew  

Officials in the Civil Aviation Ministry said the government is planning to call a meeting of all stakeholders to consider making psychometric tests mandatory for flight crew. The government is also in the process of hiring more personnel to strengthen security in view of increased threat perception and rising untoward incidents globally. The proposal to ramp up manpower at BCAS, the nodal security agency for the civil aviation sector, comes at a time when carriers are expanding their fleet to meet rising passenger traffic. Civil Aviation Secretary V Somasundaran said, “It (BCAS) is badly understaffed. Fifteen new airports are expected to come up in the next two to four years.” ENS

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