- “I was taken into a room and was asked to lift my dress/take it off so that I could be checked to make sure I wasn't carrying anything under my clothes.” – Shruthi Basappa, March 2017
- “She asked me to open up my blouse and show her my breast. She wanted me to show her by hand- expressing a little.” – Gayathri Bose, January 2017
India’s problem with racial profiling abroad continues unabated. In comes in sporadic intervals and are serious enough for us to question this lack of trust and breach of friendship between the countries concerned.
Airports are one of the most infamous places for such incidents. Only in January this year, a 33-year-old Indian-origin Singaporean woman, Gayathiri Bose, had said that she was "humiliated" by German police when was told to squeeze her breast at Frankfurt airport to prove she was lactating. She said police at Frankfurt Airport were suspicious because she was carrying a breast pump but travelling without her baby.
Now in March, Shruthi Basappa, a Bengalurean was stopped at the Frankfurt Airport while was undergoing the screening process. She was travelling with her husband who is a foreigner and her 4-year-old daughter. In a Facebook post which has since then been taken down or closed to the public, Shruthi vented about the incident :
She says: "We were travelling to Iceland from India via Frankfurt with our 4-year-old daughter when I was asked to move aside for this random check, no explanations offered. I was taken into a room and was asked to lift my dress/take it off so that I could be checked to make sure I wasn't carrying anything under my clothes.”
Angered by the insensitivity of the concerned airline and its representatives, she made a further update:
"I’m always the chosen one for random security checks - pat down, baggage check, let’s take you into a room for a closer pat down etc. Of course it is random. Of course it is not because I'm brown. But this happens every time. Every. Single. Time," she alleged. Further she also details how she was recovering from an operation and requested a gentle pat down but instead her request was met with rudeness and severity. The most traumatic part of the incident, she recounts, was that the ‘humiliation’ occurred in front of her 4-year-old daughter and how it would leave an impression on her.
In the case of Gayathiri Bose, she said, they kept her passport and she was then led to a room by a female police officer for further questioning, she said. Inside the room, "She asked me to open up my blouse and show her my breast. She wanted me to show her by hand- expressing a little."
Shruthi's Facebook post caught the attention of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj who read about the alleged strip search asked of her at the Frankfurt Airport on March 29. The minister immediately sought a report and tweeted: "Raveesh - Plz send me a report on this. @CGIFrankfurt (sic),". Raveesh Kumar is the Indian consul general in Frankfurt.
Two incidents in a span of two months, shows something’s wrong with the way Indians are perceived abroad. Already we know of the distrust with which the Americans look upon us, in UK, Australia it’s no better, with repeated incidents of Indians being subject to racial slurs or being attacked and sometimes even killed because of their origin. How this deep mistrust can be changed is up to the respective governments of the country. Or else soon, leaving India for a foreign country will become a matter of ‘are we safe out there?’
Like Shruthi Basappa says in her post, “I hate to play the race card here, but I was the only person pulled aside and peeking at my husband instantly changed the woman's mind about the strip search that was now a regular pat down. I'd appreciate a response from you at the earliest.” Such observations force one to think of it a racial profiling and unnecessary harassment rather than a matter of security.
Last Updated 31, Mar 2018, 6:35 PM IST