Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: The former Union Civil Aviation Minister, C.M. Ibrahim, was prevented from boarding a Bangalore-bound flight here on Tuesday night after a pistol and bullets were found in his hand baggage.

Airport sources said that Mr. Ibrahim claimed to have a valid licence for the pistol, but could not produce it during the security check.

Luggage off-loaded

Officials of the Central Industrial Security Force offloaded the checked-in luggage and gave Mr. Ibrahim five days to produce the licence.

He left by a train to Bangalore and later faxed the licence to the CISF.

Stringent security norms have been adopted in airports, especially in the backdrop of the terror plot foiled at London's Heathrow airport recently.

Bangalore Special Correspondent writes:

Commenting on the incident later on arrival here, Mr. Ibrahim said he was not aware that he had to carry the original licence all the time.

Rather than delay the departure of the plane, he returned to Bangalore by train and thereafter produced the licence to the authorities.

"Improved security"

Mr. Ibrahim said security at the airport had largely improved and "I appreciate the effort. The Central Industrial Security Force personnel are alert. I was only carrying a photocopy of the licence and thereafter produced the original licence."

Mr. Ibrahim was the Union Minister for Civil Aviation in the national front Government headed by H.D.Deve Gowda.

Mr. Ibrahim told a television channel he had himself introduced the rule that anyone carrying a firearm on an aircraft should also have with him the licence in the original.

He appreciated the Chennai airport authorities for enforcing that rule.