Intimidation on home soil!
When I was invited to two events in Colombo, I didn’t really want to go. I guess the two trips I had already had to take in the previous weeks and my father’s health had exhausted me completely – and I just wanted to get back into a routine that allowed me to switch off for a while each day. But the two events were important and I couldn’t justify not attending (yes I know this is a double negative but so what? ;))? One was a regional interaction on Cyber Crime legislation and the other was an Execuutive Committee meeting of the Asia Pacific ICT Alliance. So I decided to make the trip.
At Karachi airport I wondered yet again whether I had made the right decision. As I went in through the Fast Track section and my bags cleared security, I headed for the Check In counter but was stopped by an FIA/Civil Aviation guy who asked where I was going. I told him I was headed for Sri Lanka. He asked why I was going there. I was losing patience but I answered in the most civil tone possible. He then flipped through my passport and kept looking at me with what can only be termed as an intimidating look. This continued for a few minutes until I was forced to ask him if there was a problem. He stayed quiet and just peered at me again.
The ordeal wasn’t over yet. He then asked me to place my suitcase on the counter and proceeded to have it checked. Each item was checked out meticulously and the suitcase was checked out for a false bottom. By this team I was feeling a mixture of emotions – anger, fear, uncertainty. I asked the guy again what the problem was. He again said nothing. I told him that I traveled frequently and had never been put through such a process. Were they looking for something in particular? Did they have some sort of intelligence that they should perhaps share with me? Should I even travel? That is how nervous I had become.
He looked at me one more time with that same intimidating gaze and then told me to move on without answering any of my concerns. I was feeling pretty shaken by that time but proceeded to check in, past immigration and into the lounge and was soon on my way to Colombo. It was the first time that I was unable to sleep on the flight.
When I got my luggage in Colombo, I found that my new combination luck which my brother had brought for me from London was missing. Someone had obviously removed it. God knows why. There was nothing missing. This had got curiouser and curiouser – and it had made me feel that my personal space had been “invaded” and I had been unnecessarily “terrorized”. Is all this action against the average citizen justified under the guise of security?