It was my forgetfulness, says Pinarayi Vijayan

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Kerala State secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) Pinarayi Vijayan on Saturday described as "inexcusable forgetfulness" on his part to have boarded a flight with five live cartridges of a .38 revolver.

According to Mr. Vijayan, he had removed the live cartridges from the revolver couple of weeks ago when he submitted his weapon registered in his name for renewal of licence.

"I left them in a bag I use in Kerala and inadvertently I brought that bag along for my Delhi visit. I realised my mistake only when security personnel at Chennai airport said there was something metallic in my bag."

About his questioning in Chennai, Mr. Vijayan said he gave a written statement and also had his revolver licence faxed to the authorities.

On Thiruvananthapuram airport authorities stating that they had not found any cartridges in his bag and whether action should be taken against the security personnel for not being vigilant enough, the State secretary said the law would take its course.

For his part, Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan said Mr. Vijayan had a licensed weapon and said the presence of cartridges in his bag was just a case of absentmindedness. Mr. Vijayan said he had first acquired the gun in 1993-94 when the UDF was in power in the State.

Perceiving a threat to his life, the UDF had given him security but he found the constant presence of gun-toting men embarrassing. Instead, he opted to keep a revolver in self-defence and has had one since then, he said.