India asks US to avoid SRK-type incidents

Shah Rukh Khan
WASHINGTON: After the outrage in India over the detention of Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan at a US airport, New Delhi has asked Washington to take steps to avoid such incidents in the future.

To "convey the deep concern that has been expressed nation wide in India" over Khan’s detention at White Plains airport near New York Thursday, the Indian Embassy here said it has taken up the matter with the US Department of State.

It has also "sought the State Department’s intervention to institute appropriate measures to avoid recurrence of such an incident in the future", it said in a press note Saturday.

According to the embassy’s version of the incident, about half an hour after the arrival of "the internationally renowned Indian film star" by a private jet at White Plains airport Thursday afternoon, the Indian consulate in New York received information that he had not been cleared by the US Customs and Border Protection (USCBP).

"The Consulate General immediately intervened with the concerned authorities for his early clearance, which was done within 75 minutes of his arrival," it said.

"Khan thereafter left the airport. The same evening, USCBP authorities, through an email to the Consulate General conveyed their profound apology for the incident.

Caught on the wrong foot over the detaining of Khan at a US airport twice in less than three years, Washington had Friday asserted it was not a case of racial profiling or a pattern.

Suggesting that Khan was not "detained", but "simply delayed", State Department spokesperson Mark Toner told reporters: "I wouldn’t necessarily look at this as some sort of pattern but rather two separate incidents."

Toner also dismissed a suggestion that it was racial profiling. "I think we all know that that’s clearly not the case. The fact of the matter is tens of thousands of Muslims travel to and from the United States every day and are not detained or delayed."

In August 2009, too, Khan was detained at New Jersey’s Newark airport.