Washington/New Delhi: The US Homeland
Security has apologised to Civil Aviation Minister Praful
Patel who was questioned by the immigration authorities in
Chicago as his name and date of birth happened to match with
that of a person on America`s watch-list.
Patel, who was in Chicago on a private visit and flew
to Montreal for attending an official engagement, was stopped
and quizzed at the O`Hare airport.
The minister was asked why he was visiting the US and
whether he had stayed in the country earlier.
US Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano,
later apologised to Patel over the issue.
She also gave an assurance that the US will do
whatever required to make necessary amends to prevent any such
incidents in the future, Civil Aviation Ministry officials
Patel has earlier sought to downplay the episode and
said nothing serious had happened.
"I am in Montreal and nothing serious has happened...
there is a person with similar name and birth date. That`s why
they just double checked," he said.
Patel was questioned by the immigration officials
after his name matched with that of another Praful Patel, who
is reportedly on US` watch list.
Brian Bell, the Public Affairs Liaison for Customs and
Border Protection at O`Hare International Airport said:
"There are 17,000 passengers per day through the O`Hare
Airport and it is not uncommon to deal with people whose names
are on the US Watch List. Even if the person is on the US
Watch List, he is let off if he is not a person of interest,"
"We deal with such people quickly and efficiently and
we release people who do not match," Bell added.