Reported by Santosh Jagdev
Bhubaneswar, Sep 12:
If you and I do it, the security personnel on duty at the Biju Patnaik International Airport in Odisha’s capital city would not wait a minute before hauling us up for it. But then a man with the awe-inspiring UN tag is not you and I and cannot be messed around, can he?
In an incident that speaks volumes about our inherent inferiority complex and awe of the white man, security personnel looked on helplessly as Yuri Afnaseiv, UNDP Resident Representative and UN Resident Coordinator for India, puffed away merrily just meters away from the main entrance into airport terminal, where smoking is a strict no-no.
The issue would perhaps gone unreported had it not been for an alert camera person of a local television channel, who not only captured the scene on his camera, but also followed it up by sounding out the airport authorities about this disdainful violation of rules.
In the recording, Afnaseiv is seen smoking near the main entrance of the Airport without a care in the world at a time when security was at its tightest since Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, after winding up his two-day visit to the state, was scheduled to leave for Delhi yesterday. Forget taking action against the UN representative, the awe-struck security personnel did not even muster the courage to politely remind him about the rules and request him to stop.
With the scene captured on camera, an embarrassed Sharad Kumar, director of Biju Patnaik International Airport, had to admit that such an incident indeed took place. “We are verifying the footage from the CCTV cameras installed at the Airport premises following an allegation by the reporter. After a thorough check up of the CCTV footage, we will issue a show cause against the UNDP Resident representative and also impose a fine on him,” Kumar said in a belated damage control move.
“Action will also be initiated against the security officers on duty, if found guilty, for their negligence,” he said.
Afnaseiv took his office as UNDP Resident Representative and UN Resident Coordinator in India on July 31 this year.
Prior to his current position, Afanasiev served for 10 years as the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Croatia. Before that, he served at the UN headquarters in New York as Senior Advisor at the Regional Bureau for Europe and the CIS covering 24 countries in the region including Central Asia.