When Vadodara businessman P Radhakrishnan was told he could not get his bag back when he was offloaded from a flight in the US, he asked the ticketing agent a question.
The next thing he knew, he was under arrest, accused of ‘terrorising.’
A Rediff.com correspondent reports from the US.
On January 28, Paraman Radhakrishnan, a businessman from Vadodara, was charged with ‘terrorising’ in the United States.
His frustration over not getting his checked in luggage, Radhakrishnan said, and an airport employee’s subsequent over reaction landed him in this nightmare.
The 53 year old was arrested for making a bomb threat at the Grand Forks International Airport in North Dakota.
The incident, Radhakrishnan said was one ‘big misunderstanding.’
‘It was just a miscommunication between a harassed passenger and an overstressed airline employee when she refused boarding due to overbooking and informed me that I would not be getting my checked in bag back as it was already on the flight. My comment and the subsequent over reaction on the employee’s part has got me into this nightmare,’ he said.
The drama unfolded when Radhakrishnan, an energy efficiency specialist who runs Devki Energy Consultancy Pvt Ltd in Vadodara, was preparing to return home to India. He checked in for a flight from Grand Forks to Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Recounting the incident, he said after he finished his colleagues and he finished their work in Roseau, they left the Minnesota town about midnight to reach Grand Forks for their flight.
He got his ticket, checked his bag in and moved through the security check.
At the boarding gate, Radhakrishnan said he and other passengers were informed that the flight, Delta 4803 operated by SkyWest Airlines, was overbooked and that they would have to drive to Minneapolis to catch their connecting flight to India.
Radhakrishnan was offered a flight voucher by Delta, and a rental car to drive to Minneapolis airport.
When he requested his bag, he was told it would be waiting for him in Minneapolis and was already on the plane.
He was quoted telling the Grand Forks Herald that he was shocked that the bag had not been removed, because the procedure during international travel is that bags are removed from flights if the passenger is not on board.
Radhakrishnan said he was upset and told the ticketing agent that it was a security violation.
‘I said, “What if there was a bomb in the bag?”‘ Radhakrishnan said.
What happened next is what Radhakrishnan described as a nightmare.
The employee called a colleague and Radhakrishnan was arrested.
According to the court affidavit, the employee told the police that Radhakrishnan said ‘there was a bomb in the bag.’
‘It was just bad communication,’ the Herald quoted the Indian businessman saying.
Radhakrishnan was charged with ‘terrorising,’ a Class C felony (the third most serious felony). He was later released on bail.
As a result of this unfortunate incident, Radhakrishnan found a friend in Jack (Jagdish) Wadhawan, a leading realtor in Grand Forks, who came forward to help him and bail him out.
Wadhawan, who came to the US from India 24 years ago, thought the ticketing agent over-reacted because of Radhakrishnan’s ethnicity and accent.
He had never met Radhakrishnan before, but felt obliged to help a fellow Indian, attended his court hearing, and subsequently bailed him out of jail.
On January 31, Radhakrishnan wore one of Wadhawan’s suits and was beginning what could be a long stay in his new friend’s home.
Wadhawan said he will remain by Radhakrishnan’s side until his name is cleared.
The next court date is scheduled for March 6.