In yet another instance of an unauthorised facilitation for VIP passengers inside airport terminals, custom officials at the Chennai International Airport reportedly provided special treatment to N.Ram, Chairman of Kasturi & Sons Limited and Publisher of The Hindu during the immigration process.
The incident is said to have happened at around 3 AM on 19 December. An eyewitness, who subsequently lodged a protest to the airport authorities, confirmed to Swarajya that the breach of rules occurred and invited the ire of flyers.
While various flyers were standing in a long line, patiently waiting to complete the immigration proceedings, N Ram and his family members were allowed to skip the queue and were also escorted by customs officials who even switched on another X-Ray machine specifically for them.
Noticing this ‘special treatment’, one of the passengers in the queue raised strong objection and demanded to know the particular protocol being followed (if any) but was merely informed that this matter should be discussed “outside”.
After the passenger spoke to the customs officer, he acknowledged that he was merely following ‘instructions’ laid out by his officer-in-charge.
When asked about the ‘privilege’ accorded to N Ram and his family members, the officer-in-charge acknowledged that there was ‘no protocol’ involved and this was being done at a ‘personal level’ based on ‘request’.
The officer-in-charge is also said to have agreed that this was not a correct thing to do and explained that such a practice was getting ‘rarer’ by the day.
This incident led to several aggrieved passengers questioning the level of entitlement India's national institutions are willing to encourage and support, just because the common man is used to this abuse of power and influence.
They also questioned if there was any revenue implication in the matter, given that the family was escorted by customs officers.
In Chennai Airport, prominent people are often provided ‘unauthorised facilitation’. The airport authorities, however, seem to be unable to check the rampant ‘VIP culture’ in the airport.