Jammu airport: the VVIP racism of a rejected Neta
“In the morning when I reached airport I was dying to pee. It was such chaos & so many ladies were waiting outside toilets. None of the washrooms were working and everything was blocked. Travelers most of them tourists had so much inconvenience. The Manager was helpful when I complained but this condition was unacceptable. They are still trying to clean and clear blockages”.
I wasn’t shocked when I received this message from a friend, a girl who was travelling back to Mumbai from Jammu.
Next day, the friend had to visit hospital in the morning and seek sick leave because of severe intestinal infection. All she had taken was a sandwich from the only and New eatery counter at Jammu Airport after going through all this mess.
Anyone who has been to Jammu airport would understand how it feels to be a common man while travelling through this airport, which apart from being the state’s capital is also the nearest airport for lakhs of Mata Vaishno Devi devotees each year. Though the infrastructure has recently gone through a major change but it is still miles away from being a common man’s airport.
Few days later I too had to visit Jammu. After landing I commenced my walk from the aircraft to the main building area and accidentally walked away from the line I wasn’t supposed to, police officer was quick to point out my mistake for security reasons. I corrected my walk and as I looked around, there was a car standing just in front of another aircraft with policemen standing outside it. Having been to Jammu airport more than often, it was obvious that some VVIP was going to come out of the aircraft. And rightly so, Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad, LOP in Rajya Sabha, the man voters of this very state rejected in Lok Sabha elections walked out of the aircraft.
Surely his walking & shaking hands in front of the aircraft with the Police officers within the lines I had crossed earlier was not a security threat. While I still had to walk a distance to get my luggage and then carry it all the way out of the airport as private vehicles were hard to get inside, there was the man we had rejected through the power of democracy having his car ready to pick him up just few meters away from the air stair.
The VVIP treatment wasn’t over yet. The VVIP luggage was still to be delivered. While Mr. Azad went away within minutes in his VVIP car, the man who accompanied him walked with 5-6 police officers inside to the luggage collection belt area.
While I walked out with the luggage, police officers ensured that the man’s luggage is safely delivered inside the car waiting just outside the building. I looked to the right while one VVIP luggage was being delivered by 5-6 police officers, on my right were Indian Jawans sitting on the cold floor waiting to get in.
It is a common sight at Jammu airport and Railway station to see Jawans who protect our borders at one of the most sensitive border areas sitting on the floor waiting to get back home since our Govt cant even afford a waiting room for them.
After feeling sad and helpless with the VVIP culture and sight of Jawans sitting on the cold floor, I realized, I still have to carry my luggage out to the main gate since the car won’t be allowed to get in. The luggage carts aren’t allowed outside the door. So, no matter how heavy your luggage is, you have to carry it by hand to your car or taxi or auto and there will be no 5-6 police officers carrying your briefcase. Imagine elderly people jumping through the waterlogged areas outside the gate with heavy bags.
At Jammu airport, you feel like still being still ruled by British. You need to know a police officer inside and your boarding pass will be ready before you even arrive, he will ensure that you don’t have to stand in long queues and accompany you till the boarding gate and if you are VVVIP then to the airstair.
The security at the airport is disappointing even after multiple checking counters. The airport seems like waiting for a disaster to happen.
The VVIP culture has seen no change even under the new PDP-BJP govt, though infrastructure has, but even today if you know one police officer or employee inside, your boarding card will be printed before you arrive so you don’t have to wait in the queue. The Scorpios of Netas can go inside without any issues but common man continues to suffer.
Jayant Sinha, Minister of State for Civil Aviation says Mobile App will help address issue, let’s see what his govt both at state and centre do on an entire article.
A Kashmiri Pandit in Exile -Born Kashmiri, Brought up Dogra.