Saturday, 14 April 2012

India fumes over Bollywood star's US airport row

NEW DELHI — India has reacted sharply to Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan's questioning by US airport immigration authorities, saying "detention and apology" have become a US habit.
India lodged a diplomatic complaint after Khan said he was detained for over 90 minutes on Thursday when he landed at New York's small White Plains airport on his way to deliver a speech at Yale University.
"More than an apology will have to take place," Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur was quoted as saying in New Delhi by the semi-official Press Trust of India on Saturday.
The United States has apologised and denied allegations that Khan was singled out because of his Muslim name after the star jetted in on a private plane.
Other passengers on the flight were cleared but Khan was only allowed to proceed after the Indian Consulate intervened.
Khan was also detained for more than two hours in 2009 at Newark airport outside New York, sparking a similar Indian outcry and and a US apology.
"Detention and apology" have become a habit with the United States and cannot continue, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said in Moscow, the Press Trust of India reported.
"A repeated problem for the same person followed by clearance on account of (Indian) consulate intervention and a mechanical apology is not adequate," the news agency quoted Krishna, who was in Moscow for official talks, as saying,
The 46-year-old actor, one of the most popular stars of the nation's prolific Bollywood industry, made his way to Yale after his latest incident and said he was used to such hassles at US airports.
"Yes, it always happens... Whenever I start feeling arrogant about myself, I always take a trip to America," he joked with students. "The immigration guys kick the star out of stardom."
Khan's questioning at the US airport was front-page news in India in Saturday's newspapers.
"India protests Shah Rukh Khan's detention in US," said the Hindustan Times in a headline. "Khanned again," said the tabloid Mail Today.
Last November, the United States apologised to former Indian president Abdul Kalam after the New Delhi government complained he had been frisked at a New York airport.
India is sensitive about its VIPs undergoing security checks.
Kalam, 80, is a Muslim who served as a popular president of India from 2002-07. He was previously the country's chief military scientist.
A similar diplomatic incident erupted in 2009 when Kalam was questioned in New Delhi before boarding a flight to the United States.

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