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SRK detained at New York airport; US apologises
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 13
Bollywood star Shahrukh Khan’s detention at a New York airport for almost two hours has upset India no ends with New Delhi saying it would take up the issue with the highest authorities in America.

Shah Rukh Khan was detained on his way to address at Yale University after arriving in the US from India in a private aircraft at White Plains Airport, which is about 50 KM from Manhattan. He was given clearance after intervention by the Consulate General of India (CGI) in New York.

Subsequently, the US Homeland Security and Border Protection authorities addressed a letter to the CGI, expressing profound apology over the incident. However, the Indian authorities were not impressed.

The US Embassy in New Delhi also tendered an apology to Khan if he had experienced an inconvenience or delay in White Plains on his way to the university. “I would just like to say that many Americans are great fans of Indian movies, and respect the work of the great actor, Shah Rukh Khan. My own daughter always asks to see SRK’s ‘Chammak Challo’ video song,’’ embassy spokesman Peter Vrooman said.

He said the US Homeland Security had put in place systems that could help address circumstances faced by Khan or any other traveler, called the ‘Traveller Redress Inquiry Programme’. If anyone had been selected for secondary screening on multiple occasions, he/she could use this programme to resolve issues such as identification.

Tendering of a ‘mechanical’ apology after such incidents had become a habit for the US authorities. The issue must be taken up with the highest authorities so that such incidents did not recur, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna, currently in Moscow, told Indian Ambassador to the US Nirupama Rao.

Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur said “the repetition of such incidents needs to be looked into…certainly the matter will be taken up.’’

Reports from Washington said while other occupants of the plane, including Nita Ambani, were cleared immediately, Khan was stopped and was given immigration clearance only after about two hours.

Khan was scheduled to address a gathering of students, parents, faculty and other members of the Indian-American community at the Yale University. When informed about Khan’s detention, Yale officials also contacted and spoke with officials of the Department of Homeland Security and department of US Immigration and Customs in Washington.

Later, Khan made it a point to mention the incident in his address. “(I was) detained at the airport as always…it was nice as it always happens,’’ he said as students booed the US authorities.

This is not the first time the 46-year-old Bollywood hero had been stopped at an American airport. In 2009 also, he was stopped at the Newark airport and was released after a two-hour grilling.

Former President A P J Abdul Kalam was frisked at New York's JFK airport in September last year. In 2009 too, Kalam had been frisked by staff of the Continental Airlines at the New Delhi airport.

us dy chief of mission summoned

US Deputy Chief of Mission Donald Lu was summoned by Joint Secretary (Americas) Javed Ashraf and was conveyed India's "concern" over the issue





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