Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan stopped at US airport


(BBC) Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan has expressed his disappointment at being “detained” by US authorities at Los Angeles International Airport.

It is not clear why Khan was detained, or for how long.


The US ambassador to India has apologised for the detention and said authorities were working to ensure it did not happen again.


In 2012, Khan was detained for 90 minutes at the White Plains airport near New York.


In 2009, he was stopped for two hours at Newark airport. He was released after India’s embassy intervened.


Khan, who flew into Los Angeles on Friday, tweeted: “I fully understand and & respect security with the way the world is, but to be detained at US immigration every damn time really really sucks.”


But, the actor added, there was a brighter side to the “detention”: “The brighter side is while waiting, caught some really nice pokemons”


Although there was no comment from immigration officials, the US State Department’s assistant secretary on south and central Asian affairs, Nisha Biswal, tweeted to Khan, saying she was “sorry for the hassle”, adding that US diplomats also face this situation.


Later, the US ambassador to India, Rich Verma, apologised to Khan.


Some Indians wondered why one of Bollywood’s biggest stars was routinely detained at US airports.


In the 2012 incident, the actor arrived on a private plane and was on his way to Yale University for a function when he was stopped.


An Indian government minister said at the time that this “policy of detention and apology by the US cannot continue”.


US customs and border protection authorities later expressed “profound” apologies for the incident.


Khan had later made light of the incident and joked about it.


“Whenever I start feeling arrogant about myself, I always take a trip to America. The immigration guys kick the star out of stardom,” he told a gathering of students at Yale University.


Khan has appeared in more than 70 films and is considered one of India’s most recognisable and popular celebrities.


The actor is not the only Indian public figure to have been singled out by US immigration and India has complained in the past too about the treatment of dignitaries by US air staff.


  • In November 2011, Washington apologised after former Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam was frisked at a New York airport. Delhi complained after the 80-year-old was frisked on board the aircraft, and had his jacket and shoes briefly taken away.


  • A year earlier, India’s then ambassador to the US Meera Shankar was pulled from an airport security line and frisked by a security agent in Mississippi. The hands-on search in December 2010 took place even after her diplomatic status was revealed. Some reports said Ms Shankar, who was on her way from a conference, was singled out because she was wearing a sari.


  • In the same month, another Indian diplomat, Hardeep Puri, was asked to remove his turban at an airport in Houston, Texas. When the Sikh refused to do so, he was detained in a “holding room”, reports said.
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