Friday, September 22, 2006
"the dirty dozen"
a us airline flight was on its way to india from schipol airport,amsterdam on a wednesday a month ago when the crew saw and reported some suspicious activities on board. several passengers were behaving in a strange manner. twenty minutes after the filght was airborne with 149 passengers on board,the pilot radioed for permission to return and asked for a military escort.two f16 fighter jets were sent by the royal netherlands airforce to meet the plane which was in german airspace and to escort it back to schipol.the pilot had "security concerns".the plane landed safely and immediately the 12 passengers were detained for questioning and later arrested.
50 year old man mohammad farooq hasham was flying for the first time.he hailed from navi mumbai.he attended a garments exhibition in trinidad and tobago for about a month.and alongwith other trader friends from the same community they were flying back to their beloved mumbai to recount to their kith and kin the wonderful sights and sounds of the calypso country famous also for its cricket.the west indies.on the aircraft, like a card playing group of 12 persons whom we often see on mumbai locals,they got boisterous,unruly,discourteous and started behaving rudely and insolently. the twelve of them had 50 to 60 cellphones bulging out of their carry-on bags. they switched them on while the plane was climbing, passed them around,violated the 'fasten seatbelt' rules despite repeated announcements to get back to their seats and fasten their seatbelts and were disgustingly loud and boorish. one of them was calling home to ask his wife to prepare chicken biryani and some falooda too .according to the crew,they were creating a "ruckus" in the plane and probably were a little drunk.they even rushed to the business class in protest.the dutch would have no more of this nonsense from the garment exporters of oshiwara,navin mumbai. they may have seemingly overreacted but they were decisive.
then the socalled hell started for these gujjus from mumbai.they were handcuffed,detained and interrogated for suspected terrorist activities.all their newly purchased belongings-mobile phones,laptops,etc etc were confiscated.all the twelve happened to be muslims from the bohra community. our media hyped the whole issue out of proportion. our government demanded an apology from the dutch for their highhandedness. wasn't that a major overreaction?
what does one learn from this episode.for all of us indians and not one community alone.it is high time that we understand airline etiquette.we must get away from this "chalta hai" attitude and learn to behave in a responsible manner concerned about air safety rules and the convenience of copassengers. a little discipline and respect for rule of law.
none of these 12 when they returned to a triumphant welcome would say anything about their own despicable behaviour.our media too kept quiet on this aspect and only highlighted how "severe" the dutch authorities were in treating "innocent" passengers. would the dutch have done the same thing if they were 'white ' asked a columnist?
the dutch minister for foreign trade karien von gennip expressed regret over the incident and hoped that it would have no negative impact over the bilateral relations between netherlands and india. she praised india and referred to it as a "geopolitical powerhouse",back office of the world and waxed eloquence on the combination of traditional values and modern thinking in its people. in india there is mystique in everything she said. and indulged in some gandhigiri too. mahatma gandhi has inspired millions of indians all over the world, she added.
black or white, you jolly well follow the law of the land. you do not have any license to indulge in outrageous behaviour.and if you insist to do so, then face the music. let us hope this incident will teach a good lesson to all of us who mend the rules to suit our own whims and fancies.