The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Now boarding: a pistol with VIP

Aug. 30: Don’t carry gel, don’t carry toothpaste, don’t carry liquids….

Somebody forgot to tell C.M. Ibrahim — probably because he is a former civil aviation minister — that pistols are also not meant to be taken aboard flights.

Ibrahim, who had a brief brush with national limelight when Deve Gowda was Prime Minister, clawed back from oblivion last night when a German-made pistol popped out of his hand baggage at Chennai airport. Also in the leather bag were seven rounds of ammunition.

As CISF officers looked up in disbelief, Ibrahim politely mumbled: “I am a former MP and I have a licence.”

But the former minister, scheduled to take a private airline’s flight to Bangalore, did not have the original licence with him. He had a photocopy that was hardly legible.

Even if Ibrahim had the licence with him, the pistol should have been put in the check-in — not in hand — baggage.

As the man who ruled the skies and ran the airports in the country in the nineties, Ibrahim should have known the regulations and kept them in mind, especially after the UK plane plot.

But, apparently, “absent-mindedness” was to blame. “Wherever I go, I carry this weapon along with the copy of the licence because of threat from Kashmiri militants,” he said. “But my mistake last night was to have kept it in my hand bag when it should have been part of the regular baggage,” he told The Telegraph today.

Since the former minister, considered the Man Friday of Gowda before they fell out with each other, was not carrying the licence this particular night, the pistol and the ammunition were seized.

Ibrahim then called his home in Bangalore for a faxed copy of the licence. The new, legible copy passed muster and the minister was allowed to leave but without the weapon. However, Ibrahim, conscientious enough not to hold up the flight, took a train to Bangalore.

“I have sent an aide with the original licence to take back the pistol,” Ibrahim said this evening.

The former minister was lucky. A few hours later, a French journalist was roughed up and detained at the nearby international terminal for drawing on a less lethal weapon: he smoked a cigarette in the security area.

But the pistol drama did have a casualty: it drowned out an “important” announcement by Ibrahim in the morning. For those who missed the news, Ibrahim’s party — carrying the ambitious title of the All India Progressive Janata Dal — will merge with the Congress next month.

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