The Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) has suspended 10 officials following an incident where a minor boy managed to board a Kuwait Airlines flight without a passport or ticket, evading security measures at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, Dhaka.
The incident has raised questions about how the child was able to board the plane without detection. According to police sources, the young boy had entered the airport with the intention of pursuing his hobby of observing aeroplanes.
The boy named Junayed Molla, 12, is from Muksudpur upazila in Gopalganj. He studies in a local madrasah.
On 11 September, without informing anyone at home, he embarked on a journey from Muksudpur to his paternal aunt's residence in the capital's Bashundhara area.
Airport Zone Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC) Md Tohidul Islam told The Business Standard, "Instead of going to his aunt's house, Junayed went directly to see the airport."
He said, "The boy entered the airport unnoticed, with no one halting him or even noticing his presence. This reflects a serious lapse in the responsibility of the airport officials. Upon taking him to the police station, we gathered the necessary information from the boy and subsequently released him."
Describing his journey to a television channel, Junayed recounted that he had travelled from Muksudpur to Dhaka's Sayedabad by bus. From Sayedabad, he took another bus to reach the airport.
He said, "When I arrived at the airport, I initially could not proceed to the second floor. So, I circled around the building and accessed the second floor via an alternate staircase on the other side. There, I underwent a security check and was granted entry."
Junayed continued, "The security personnel inquired if I was travelling alone, to which I replied that I was not alone. They allowed me to proceed. It was only when I approached the plane that a police officer stopped me. I then moved ahead through a pathway used by many people. No one checked my credentials when I boarded the plane.
"I have always had a keen interest in experiencing a plane ride. It would have been even better if I could have actually flown on the plane."
"I was sitting in the plane for about an hour. Then someone came and said it was my seat. Why are you sitting here?" Junayed said.
According to the airport sources, the boy managed to board a flight of Kuwait Airlines (Dhaka-Kuwait) at 3.10 am. The incident came to light when a cabin crew was showing a person's designated seat and found the boy sitting there without his parents.
Subsequent to a thorough examination of the passenger list, it was discovered that the child was not listed as one of the scheduled passengers. As a result, the cabin crew de-board him from the flight and subsequently handed him over to Aviation Security (AVSEC).
AVSEC personnel later transferred him into the custody of airport police. On Tuesday, the police handed over the boy to his family.
Many passengers have expressed their concerns, highlighting that the failure to intercept the boy at any point signifies a majore security lapse at the airport.
Meanwhile, a five-member probe body, headed by a deputy director-level official of CAAB, was formed to look into the incident, CAAB Chairman M Mafidur Rahman told The Business Standard.
He said action has been taken against the officials of immigration, airport security, Kuwait airlines and ground handler of the Biman Bangladesh Airlines.
"Further actions will be taken against them pending the outcome of the investigation," he added.