New Jersey: Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh
Khan was detained and questioned for two hours at the Newark
Airport near here today apparently because of his name, adding
to a growing number of prominent Indians being subjected to
such treatment that sparked angry reactions back home.
The 43-year-old actor, who was detained by immigration
officials because his name was part of a common checklist that
had been prepared ever since the 9/11 attacks, termed the
incident as "uncalled for" and "humiliating".
The officials wanted to know why Khan was visiting the
US and posed other such questions, after his name popped up on
the computer screen at the counter.
He was let off at the intervention of Indian Consulate
"I was really hassled at the American Airport because
of my name being Khan...It was absolutely was uncalled for...I
felt angry and humiliated," said Khan, who was heading towards
Chicago to participate in an Independence Day celebration.
"It is a Muslim name and I think the name is common on
their checklist," he said.
Khan joins a growing list of Indians who, as
Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni dubbed, were
frisked "beyond permissible limits" -- former president A P J
Abdul Kalam, ex-defence minister George Fernandes, Malayalam
superstar Mammootty and actors Kamal Hasan and Irrfan Khan.
Bollywood, on the other hand, termed the incident as
shocking and disgraceful.
In New Delhi, the government took up the issue with
the US Embassy which said it was ascertaining details about
the incident. US Ambassador Timothy J Roemer described Khan as
a "global icon", who is a welcome guest in the US.
Describing the incident, Khan said: "I was taken
aback...I was taken to a room where there were several others
waiting for secondary immigration checks. Obviously most of
them were Asians. I was waiting for my bags...I thought it was
nice of them to take me to another room... but that was
apparently a second check."
Khan said he kept telling the authorities that he was
an actor and requested them to allow him to speak to his
contacts in the US, but was not allowed to make calls
"I told them I am a movie star and had recently
visited the country for the shooting for a film," maintained
Khan, adding the particular immigration officer refused to
oblige saying he was just doing his duty.
Khan has been frequenting the US to shoot for his
film, the latest being `My Name is Khan`.
The actor, who will return to India on August 20,
declined to term the incident as "racial profiling", but said
it had to do with his Muslim name.
"I am always reluctant to come down here (US). They
always do it and it`s odd travelling alone. My guard wasn`t
given visa from India and I was feeling disturbed. They kept
on asking silly and irrelevant questions like phone numbers
and hotel number," Khan said.