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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 September, 2004, 15:10 GMT 16:10 UK
US woman angry at airport strip
By Ayanjit Sen
BBC correspondent in Delhi

Delhi airport
The US embassy says privacy must be observed in airport searches
Indian authorities have suspended two paramilitary personnel after an American woman stripped in a "misunderstanding" at Delhi's airport.

The 30-year-old complained to the US embassy her privacy had been violated in the incident three months ago.

The paramilitary force said she may have misunderstood a woman officer's request to remover her pouch and took off her top in front of a male officer.

The woman officer should have prevented the incident, a force spokesman said.

Curtained enclosure

Officials of the paramilitary Central Industrial Security Force say they are conducting an inquiry into the case.

It was a case of misunderstanding but the woman officer did not stop her from [stripping]
AS Shekhawat,
paramilitary inspector-general

The inspector-general of the force, AS Shekhawat, told the BBC there had been no procedural mistake by security staff.

"All female passengers are checked in a curtained enclosure," he said.

"In the case of this woman, the female officer asked her to remove a pouch she was wearing as the metal detector beeped when she walked through," he said.

Mr Shekhawat said the woman could not understand the officer's broken English and thought she was being asked to remove her shirt, which she did.

"It was a case of misunderstanding but the woman officer did not stop her from doing so," he said.

She was suspended along with a male officer who was present.

Mr Shekhawat said: "We corresponded with her regarding her complaint in which she said she was discriminated against."

A spokeswoman at the US embassy in Delhi, Arti Singh, said it had received a complaint from the woman, who said she was stripped and her privacy was violated in the presence of a male officer during the security check.

The US embassy took up the matter with the Indian authorities.

Ms Singh said: "The embassy does not object to strip searching at airports if security officials consider it warranted.

"However, we believe it is imperative to provide the traveller with appropriate privacy while the strip search is being conducted."

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