Shahrukh detention: India tells US “mechanical apology” won’t do
Not satisfied with the US regret over detention of Shah Rukh Khan at an airport for the second time, India on Saturday said "mechanical apologies" will not help and the US should have a serious look at its procedures to ensure there is no repetition.
"I am rather surprised that this should repeat in the United States... even last time an apology was given to us but again there is a repetition of the same. So this mechanical apologies are not going to improve matters," External Affairs Minister SM Krishna said in Moscow. "They (the US) will have to seriously look into the procedures which they have put in place. They should be helpful in our bilateral events," he said.
Shah Rukh, on his way to address students at Yale University, was detained by immigration officials for nearly two hours after arriving in a private plane at White Plains Airport, about 53 kms from Manhattan. He was given immigration clearance after intervention by the Consulate General of India (CGI) and the US Customs and Border Protection authorities expressed "profound" apology in a letter to the Mission.
Krishna recalled that Shah Rukh was detained earlier also in 2009 and the Indian Consulate General in New York had to intervene to get him out. "We thought that was behind us. But again the same act has been repeated when he (Shah Rukh) went there day before yesterday," Krishna said. The Minister said he had asked the Foreign Secretary's office to summon US Deputy Chief of Mission in New Delhi to convey displeasure at the way things are getting repeated with reference to important visits.
US Deputy Chief of Mission Donald Lu was summoned by Joint Secretary (Americas) in the External Affairs Ministry Jawed Ashraf yesterday to lodge India's protest.
The US embassy in New Delhi apologised to Shah Rukh for any inconvenience and said it would put in place systems that can help address such circumstances. An apology has to be "very serious business", Krishna said. "When you once tender an apology that is an assurance given to a sovereign government like India that this will not repeat again," he said. "In one tone we say that people-to-people relationship between countries must be on the increase and again such hazards, irritants will certainly not help people-to-people movement," the External Affairs Minister underlined.
The US had ruled out any pattern or racial profiling in the detention of Shah Rukh Khan twice in the US in the past three years. "I wouldn't necessarily look at this as some sort of pattern, but rather two separate incidents," State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters at a news conference in Washington.
The State Department spokesman recommended people to take the benefit of a program in the US Embassy in Delhi under which they can inform the US officials about their stature and their travel plans to the US. "There is a programme whereby travelers can alert, identify their status before they depart via the embassy. And that's one approach or avenue to take," he said. Toner also ruled out it being a case of racial profiling. "I think we all know that that's clearly not the case. You know, the fact of the matter is tens of thousands of Muslims travel to and from the US every day and are not detained or delayed," Toner said.
India's Deputy Ambassador to the US Arun K Singh conveyed India's sentiment on the issue to Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert Blake.
This was followed by a note verbatim on the issue. "I offered my sincere apologies that he may experienced. I'm not sure that it was done on a personal level," Toner said in response to a question.
- Asian Tribune -