Runaway kid lays bare airport security lapses
In an alarming security breach, a 12-year-old boy managed to evade all checks and board a Kuwait-bound plane at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport early yesterday.
The runaway from a Gopalganj madrasa had no passport, ticket or boarding card. He was discovered only because he got on a completely sold-out flight, according to airport police.
He dodged at least five security and intelligence agencies working round the clock at the airport and left officials scratching their heads.
According to sources at the HSIA, the child was in a seat of the 3:10am Kuwait Airways flight. When the person whose seat it actually was showed up, the cabin crew approached the child and failed to find his parents, a boarding card, or a passport.
They then did a head count and found they had one passenger more than the plane's capacity.
Subsequently, the pilots were informed, and security personnel got on board and took the boy away.
He was then handed over to the Airport Police Station.
Besides exposing serious security lapses at the airport, the incident sent shockwaves through the authorities concerned.
Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (Caab) Chairman Air Vice Marshal M Mafidur Rahman said it's a big question as to how a child could evade the eyes of immigration officials and board an aircraft.
CCTV footage shows that the child was between an elderly couple as if he were of that family, and he managed to cross the immigration. This was not supposed to happen, he added.
"That's why I have asked to suspend all those involved in the immigration security and then start the investigation to unveil how it all happened," said the Caab chairman.
It was not immediately clear where the boy was headed and why.
"We are investigating and also taking action against the personnel responsible … for negligence of duty," Executive Director of HSIA Group Captain Kamrul Islam told The Daily Star.
Officer-in-Charge of Airport Police Station Azizul Haque Mia said the child was now in police custody, and his parents were on their way to Dhaka.
"He fled from a madrasa three days ago and came to Gazipur. He went to the airport area on Monday night," he added.
A person needs to go through at least five checks at the airport before they can board an aircraft.
ATM Nazrul Islam, an aviation expert, told The Daily Star, "This is an example of the collapse of security at the country's prime airport, which is alarming."
"Such an incident tarnishes the image of the country."