The Financial Express


Of pistols - toy or otherwise

Nilratan Halder | Published: March 15, 2019 21:23:54 | Updated: March 20, 2019 21:02:06

Law enforcers on guard at the Chattogram airport recently after a plane hijack attempt Law enforcers on guard at the Chattogram airport recently after a plane hijack attempt

This past fortnight or so was full of pistol -- mind it was not revolver -- news. In a country where encounters between law enforcement agencies on the one side and anti-social elements and rapists or the likes on the other continuously claim lives, pistol as a weapon is hardly terrifying. But apparently insignificant weapon with little firepower can strike terror in the hearts of passengers of aircraft leaving from Dhaka's Shahjalal International Airport. After the wielding of a pistol -toy or otherwise -by a man in midair of a Dubai-bound flight between Dhaka and Chattogram, the mental makeup of passengers boarding an aeroplane from Shahjalal is hardly expected to remain the same. Much as the authority at the airport may reassure about the security in place there, no one is going to be fully convinced.

Had the issue of hijack attempt been conclusive of the claimed foolproof security, passengers would perhaps overcome their security concerns but for the subsequent incidents involving at least three cases of pistol carrying passengers. First, it was Ilias Kanchan who passed the first post of security check with his pistol and a few rounds of bullet in his handbag. Then he volunteered to admit that he was carrying a pistol and bullets. If he forgot to declare his especial cargo and then suddenly remembered to do so, it is one thing. But if he wanted to test how secured the entry to the airport was, it was a different matter altogether. This happened only a week after the incident of attempted hijack.

Immediately next Friday following Ilias Kanchan incident, a pistol was detected in another passenger's bag at the same terminal where Illias was checked. He too did not declare his firearm, which is a prerequisite for anyone carrying such weapons. He was let go after completion of the required formalities. Then on Monday a man was arrested for not declaring his weapon before the body and baggage check.

All these incidents indicate that pistol-carrying passengers -- usually a rank or two above the ordinary passengers -- were accustomed to carrying their firearms without complying with the rules and regulations. This fact is reportedly corroborated by the secretary of the ministry of civil aviation and tourism. He stated that VIPs do not like to subject themselves to such rigorous checks. Sure enough, their hubris does not allow themselves to be treated like the ordinary mortals. It is because of this they can drive on the wrong side of the road with impunity and resort to acts only criminals dare commit.

What, however, they blissfully forget is that they assist in security comprise by way of their elevated stance. They themselves can fall victim if they do not cooperate with the gatekeepers at the airport. Just imagine if the man attempting to highjack the Biman flight on February 24 were a well trained member of a suicide squad of a terror group like the one that claimed the attack on a CRP convoy at Pulwama, Kashmir and had a bomb or explosive to detonate! Why allow the security of a most vulnerable aircraft in the air to compromise simply on account of your ego. Your weapon may not be of any use when a militant decides to blow up such an aircraft. His pistol or bomb will hit the target because he knows he is there to die.

VIP or not everyone should submit to a thorough check at the airport. Bangladesh has enemies and they are on the lookout to strike where the country is vulnerable or lax in security. The yaba invasion is a proof that a neighbour is dead set to make the country feeble from within. Another country known for exporting militancy and harbouring terrorist groups has an old score to settle with their dismembered part. So the country has to be on guard all the time. Or, it may have to pay a heavy price. There is no point lamenting losses; better help security forces to get ready for preemptive strikes before the terror can organise an attack.

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