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A big fuss

The response to Azam Khan’s frisking at a US airport is disproportionate and telling

Written by The Indian Express | Published: April 30, 2013 12:42 am

The response to Azam Khan’s frisking at a US airport is disproportionate and telling

Uttar Pradesh Minister Azam Khan has returned miffed from an almost momentary detention in the US,spluttering that Union Minister Salman Khurshid had arranged for his “humiliation” in Boston’s Logan International Airport. The senior Samajwadi Party leader seems to believe that homeland security answers to the urgings of the Indian minister for external affairs. This faith in his powers is excessive. Homeland security runs on protocols known only to itself,which often impel its officers to repeatedly force their attentions on visiting dignitaries who cannot possibly be security risks. The choice of victims appears to be arbitrary,or the frisking of president Abdul Kalam in 2011 would be inexplicable. If no malice is intended,no offence should be taken. Besides,this happened in Boston,the site of the marathon bombing,the first successful attack in the US since 9/11. And yet the incident,in which his minister was taken aside for questioning,appears to have motivated UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav,projected as his party’s young and modern face,to cancel a lecture at Harvard University and a reception organised by the Indian consulate in New York City.

It could be said that nothing better may be expected from a government that has shown little respect for administrators or the imperative to abide by the rules of the game. Change was in the air when Akhilesh took office,but repeatedly,his government has showcased its willingness to go back to the bad old ways. Only days ago,his ministers turned in a disgraceful hat-trick. In Etah,Textiles Minister Shiv Kumar Beria suggested that administrators and policemen could not function except at his pleasure,and on pain of summary dismissal. In Fatehpur,Minister of State for Dairy Development Ram Murti Verma said that “minor (law-and-order) incidents” would always happen,giving validity to the culture of impunity. And in Mathura,Tourism Minister Om Prakash Singh asserted that defects in the law-and-order situation were all in the mind of journalists.

With colleagues like these,Azam Khan’s incredulity at being taken aside by a security official seems perfectly natural. But not his conviction that Salman Khurshid remote-controlled a homeland security grilling in order to have him insulted in distant places. That sounds like paranoia.

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