NEW DELHI: The aviation ministry has directed the immediate removal of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Singh’s removal from the list of ‘dignitaries’ allowed the use reserved lounges at airports. This list of 51 VVIPs — with the rape convict serving a 20-year jail term at number 51 — is prominently displayed at reserved or VIP lounges at airports.
“We had asked the aviation ministry that Singh’s name should be removed when he was convicted a few days back. The ministry has now okayed the same. The list at airports will be revised (minus Gurmeet Singh’s name) soon,” Airports Authority of India chief Guruprasad Mohapatra said.
The ministry’s letter to AAI sent on Friday said: “It has now been decided to withdraw the permission for use of reserve lounge at airports granted to Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, Chief of Dera Sacha Sauda, Sirsa, with immediate effect.” It could not be ascertained when did the ministry extend this privilege to Gurmeet Singh.
The disgraced rape convict’s name being at the bottom of the list does not in any way reduce the clout he till recently enjoyed with successive governments cutting cross party lines. “This list has been arranged in alphabetical order and in no way reflects the respective seniority or protocol/position,” says the “list of dignitaries entitled to use reserved lounge at airports”.
Officials in aviation agencies say orders for allowing use of reserved lounges at airports or for granting access to aircraft in personal vehicle in individual cases are issued by the aviation ministry. “These are political orders in which we have no say. The previous government had allowed former Bihar CMs Lalu Yadav and Rabri Devi access to aircraft at Patna airport in their car and exempted Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra from pre-boarding security checks when travelling with SPG protectees at all airports. Or allowing use of VVIP lounges at airports. Once such an order comes from th aviation ministry, we just have to implement it,” said a senior official.