Dubai: Mangalore airport has denied allegations of passport tampering made by a UAE resident.
In an article published by Gulf News last Thursday, Mohammad Hashim, 33, claimed that the passport of his wife Rubeena, 28, had been ripped from its seams by a security official outside the airport ahead of her return from Kerala to Dubai via the Karnataka-based airport on February 3.
Rubeena, who was travelling with her two young daughters, and without her husband who had stayed back in Dubai, claimed that the security official told her to go and get a baby stroller while he checked their documents before allowing them entry to the airport.
When she returned with the stroller the security official handed back their documents and she proceeded to the check in counter.
At the counter, however, check-in staff noticed that her passport was damaged and refused to issue a boarding pass.
Rubeena’s husband Hashim alleged that the damage could only have been done by the security official, and that if it had been damaged before their arrival to the airport the same official wouldn’t have allowed them into the airport.
Director of Mangalore International Airport VV Rao released the following statement in response to Hashim’s complaint, which was filed via the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi. Hashim received a copy of this response, which was also circulated and reported by the Indian press.
“After conducting a thorough investigation of the incident and also viewing CCTV footage … security personnel was very polite while checking ID proof and flight ticket validity of Rubeena and no misbehaviour was noticed.
“It is also established that security personnel did not ask her to bring the baby stroller as is alleged by the complainant. From the CCTV footage it is very clear that she has not collected the baby stroller till she reached the check-in counter.”
After reading this response, Hashim told Gulf News: “It’s pure lies. She did go and get a baby stroller while the security official had her documents and if the damage was already there before she entered the airport she wouldn’t have been allowed in, let alone able to reach check-in before it was noticed.
“At no point did my two daughters play with the passports because the passports were in a messenger bag.
“The airport should release the CCTV footage, but this will take time and require me to be in India and file a case but I can’t do that from Dubai without moving everybody back.
“The point of this is just to raise awareness. They wouldn’t have allowed her in the airport in the first place if the passport was damaged to begin with, so it’s very clear what happened and now everyone can see that they are lying.”
Once Rubeena got to the counter, check-in staff “politely declined” her “as we cannot accept a passenger with improper documents”, according to a second statement from Amith Shetty, Operation’s Manager of passenger service SATS at Mangalore Airport, a copy of which was also sent to Hashim and the Indian press.
The statement added that after cross-checking with immigration, it was eventually decided that Rubeena and her two daughters could board provided she took responsibility for bearing all costs if she got deported back from the UAE on account of the damaged passport.
Hashim, who berated the airport’s “lack of human consideration” for his wife in Thursday’s article, claimed that even during this process the airport made things difficult for Rubeena, who had to pen the letter herself.
The first draft of the letter was not accepted so she had to seek help from fellow passengers to write the waiver.
Rubeena eventually flew into Dubai with no problem, and UAE immigration just asked her to get her passport changed before the date of her next travel.