New Delhi, Apr 13: From APJ Abdul Kalam to a Defence Minister and an Indian Ambassador in US- Shahrukh Khan has the company of the noted personalities who were detained or underwent a pat-down search while passing through an American airport.
Khan, who was detained earlier in 2009 also, was stopped at New York airport for over two hours by immigration officials after arriving from India in a private plane with Nita Ambani, to address students at Yale University.
Former Defence Minister George Fernandes was strip- searched twice at Washington's Dulles international airport in 2002 and 2003 and he had "angrily" narrated the incident to then Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott. Talbott had narrated this incident in his book 'Engaging India - Diplomacy, Democracy and the Bomb'.
Just as we were saying good-bye to Fernandes, a member of our delegation innocently asked him when he would next be coming to Washington. His demeanor abruptly changed. It was as though he was glad to have an excuse to tell us how he really felt about our country.
"Ignoring an Ethiopian delegation that was already filing into his office and taking its seats, Fernandes regaled us with the story of how he had been strip-searched by officers of the US Immigration and Naturalization Service at Dulles Airport when he arrived for an official visit in early 2002, and again, in mid-2003, when he was passing through the US on his way to Brazil," Talbott recalls.
Former president Kalam was frisked at the Delhi airport itself by employees of an American airline when he was travelling to New York in 2009. He was frisked twice on the same day at New York airport last year by American security officials who even took his jacket and shoes to check for explosives, an incident that left India fuming.
Meera Shankar, the Indian ambassador to the US between 2009 and 2011, was subjected to a pat-down search in December 2010 by security personnel at Mississippi airport though she was travelling on a diplomatic passport. The reason for the security search was that she was wearing sari.
In September 2010, then Civil Aviation minister Praful Patel was quizzed by US immigration authorities at the O'Hare airport in Chicago after his name and date of birth matched with that of another Praful Patel, who is on the US' watch-list. India's UN envoy Hardeep Puri was detained for more than 30 minutes in a holding room at Houston Airport after refusing to remove his turban in December 2010.