April 14, 2012 9:26:28 am
The US has ruled out any pattern or racial profiling in the detention of Bollywood star 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 said yesterday,as the treatment meted out to the star sparked widespread condemnation in India.
Khan was detained at a 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 here.
This is second such incident happening with the popular Bollywood superstar in the US. Khan was also detained in 2009 at the Newark Airport in New Jersey.
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The State Department spokesman suggested that people wanting to avoid such situation should inform the US Embassy in New Delhi about their stature and their travel plans.
“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 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.
Khan,Toner said,was temporarily delayed before admission at the White Plains,New York,airport.
“He was traveling to an event at Yale University. We have obviously the utmost respect for Mr Khan and his work,both as an artist and a humanitarian,and we offer our apologies for any discomfort or inconvenience he may have suffered as a result of this incident,” 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.
Meanwhile,the New York office of the US Customs & Border Protection,when asked to comment on the details of a letter sent to the Consulate here expressing regret over the episode,said it is prohibited from discussing specific cases due to privacy laws.
“The United States has been and continues to be a welcoming nation. Our dual mission is to facilitate travel in the United States while we secure our borders,our people and our visitors from those that would do us harm like terrorists and terrorist weapons,criminals,and contraband,” the CBP said in a statement.
It said it not only protects US citizens and lawful permanent residents in the country but also wants to ensure the safety of its international travelers who come to visit,study and conduct legitimate business in the country.
CBP officers are charged with enforcing not only immigration and customs laws,but they enforce over 400 laws for 40 other agencies and have stopped thousands of violators of US law.
“CBP strives to treat all travelers with respect and in a professional manner,while maintaining the focus of our mission to protect all citizens and visitors in the United States,” it said.
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