Meera Shanker frisked at US airport; unacceptable, says India

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Dec 11 2010, 04:53am hrs
Diplomatic channels were being worked as New Delhi termed Indian ambassador to the US Meera Shanker's pat-down search at an airport in the US as unacceptable.

South Block sources said that New Delhi was expecting an apology from Washington, as the Indian embassy in the US has already lodged a protest.

Indian Ambassador to the US Meera Shanker was pulled from an airport security line in the US and patted down by an American security agent in Mississippi despite being told of her diplomatic status.

"This is unacceptable to India and we are going to take it up with the US government and I hope things could be resolved so that such unpleasant incidents do not recur," external affairs minister SM Krishna said on Thursday.

When asked if a report has been sought from the US, he said, "There are various procedures through which we take it up with the government of the US."

Observing that there are well-established conventions and practices as to how members of the diplomatic community should be treated, Krishna said such an incident has taken place for the second time in the last three months.

The latest incident involving the Indian envoy took place on December 4 at the Jackson-Evers International Airport where sari-clad Shankar was about to board a flight to Baltimore after attending the Mississippi State University's programme.

Shankar presented her diplomatic papers to officers and was escorted by a Mississippi Development Authority representative and an airport security officer, but witnesses said she was subjected to the hands-on search. She was taken to a VIP waiting room despite being told she was an ambassador. She was later pulled from a security line and patted down by a female Transportation Security Administration agent.

In the past, many prominent Indians, including ministers, have faced some uncomfortable moments at US airports.

In September, visiting Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel was quizzed by US immigration authorities at the O'Hare airport in Chicago after his name and date of birth matched with that of another Praful Patel, who is on America's watch-list.