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August 18, 2009

Useless Khan-troversy!

So 'superstar' Shah Rukh Khan is allegedly detained for two hours at the Newark airport. Allegedly because US customs officials say the delay/checks were only "a little more than hour" and the rest of the delay was because SRK's luggage was lost. The Indian media -- not surprisingly at all -- raised a furore about it. The Times of India cried that SRK had been detained for being a Khan. IBNLive.com quotes Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram saying, "US overdid it with SRK". (Et tu Chidu?)

Quick flashback here: On 21st April 2009, former Indian president APJ Kalam was frisked at the Indira Gandhi International airport prior to boarding a Continental Airlines flight. The airlines was subsequently pulled up and made to apologise. Interestingly though, the frisking happened despite the Indian government having a list of VIPs who do not require security checks. This list was ignored by the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the US governing body responsible for security of US transportation systems.

Given that certain Indian VIPs have some dubious -- if yet unproven -- distinctions on their resumes, why should there be a list at all? Some examples: Narenda Modi was allegedly involved in the Godhra burnings (cleared of charges in 2008). Former home minister LK Advani was the alleged mastermind of the Babri mosque demolition. and Bollywood filmstar Sanjay Dutt was allegedly involved in the 1993 Mumbai blasts (since cleared of terrorism charges but to serve six years in prison for possession of illegal arms, ie, an AK-47 gun). Stepping outside Indian borders, US President Richard Nixon was involved in the Watergate scandal and Bill Clinton was impeached (and acquitted a year later). WHY should VIPs -- anywhere in the world -- be exempt from any rules and regulations?

If former president APJ Abdul Kalam was frisked at New Delhi airport, why not Khan in the US? As for SRK's detention, it's apparently because 'Khan' is a most-common name in the US names database. Why should that shock anyone? For instance, according to Wikipedia, if you check in the United Kingdom, Khan is the surname of "over 80,000 Britons and is of only a handful of non-British or Irish originating surnames to be in the 100 most common surnames list." (Full list here)

So the US is stopping and questioning all Khans. Racism? Minority profiling? Preventing another terrorist attack? Maybe all, maybe not. What I'd like to know is whether we are crying out because a Muslim was detained for too long or because it is a Bollywood star who was stopped?

I have a feeling it's the latter. Midday quotes actors Irrfan Khan and Zayed Khan as being "humiliated" because they were detained for questioning. Were they abused? Were they called names? If regular, non-VIP people are being stopped and need to follow procedures, why should there be a furore when filmstars are involved?!

If a Rashid Khan or Bashir Khan or some other Khan is stopped, it is okay because they could be terrorists? Actor Irrfan Khan -- who I interviewed in 2000 and seemed quite intelligent back then at least -- has been quoted saying, "...Surely they can tell the difference between a terrorist and an innocent traveler." Arre miyan, terrorism is not coded in the DNA you know.

To cut a long story short, why are we getting our underwear in knots over SRK's detention? If it is human rights violation, sure take it up but NOT because it's some VIP-rights violation. If we find the US security checks too stringent, perhaps we should stop whining and do something with our security issues as well. Lest we forget that in the recent Mumbai attacks of 2008, Kasab and others simply got off a bloody boat...

PS: As for SRK insisting the US needs to offer warmth, please shutup.
Pic courtesy: Beyondasiaphilia

10 comments:

shrey said...

Hey Jhoomur, completely agree with you; same rules should be applied for all, vip or not, in the US or in India. We in India should get more stringent esp with foreign nationals. I saw this report a few days back on tv where it was revealed that certain Bangladeshi and Pakistani diplomats may be involved in smuggling fake currency in the country.
I am a big SRK fan and if he was treated badly which no one knows then it is not fair as it is not fair to many others who go through this. Otherwise I think it was blown out of proportion.

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

Yup, yup, yup and YUP!!

Shut up with the whining all ready! You guys have got a helluva lot of publicity for you "My Name is Khan" movie. And that's what this all is, really. A mere coincidence.

Nikhil said...

they were not US customs :D
they were DHLS (Department of HomeLand Security) officers which was formed by US govt after 2001 WTC attack.
i agree. they were doing their duty.

raven said...

Agree with you. But then we can't blame the media. Given their track records, this seems to be one of the more decent stories they hyped up.

And girl I think Bill might object to that 'impeached tag' you applied on him considering he never even lost a vote on the issue, except in right-wing media.

Cheers!

Eve* aka JB said...

@ Shrey: Really? Will reinstate that VIPs should not be beyond scrutiny.

@ Mamma Mia: You have a point there love... wonder if he;ll have a airport scene in that.

@ Nikhil: "...Kevin Corsaro, a spokesman for United States Customs and Border Protection..." pls see the story. :) http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/08/15/questioning-a-bollywood-vip-named-khan/?hp

@ Raven: impeached and acquitted; though agree leaving it at impeached is not correct. So have corrected it... Appreciate the comment though. And still dont agree about the media...some bloggers though did a good job of questioning the whole irated angle.

Rajbir Deswal said...

Hey you have a point there!

TW said...

completely agree with you.. we are known to blow hard when it involves our "saintly" super star idols!! I wish we would grow out of the idol worship that seems to have become tatooed in our DNA!! :O

SHRI RAM AYYANGAR said...

The SRK syndromeI fail to understand why there is so much of 'hulla gulla' by Shah Rukh Khan and his well wishers over his detention for two hours at Newark airport. One has to abide by other country law when they are there. One should appreciate that because of stringent security measure by US, there has been no further terrorist attack. In contrast, in India, our Government keep harping that they have tightened the security, but again and again the country is facing terrorist attacks. It is high time our Government learns the security procedures from them and our Icons and V VIPs should not feel offended by security checks.They all should behave like a common citizen because the constitution has given equal rights to each individual and no body should think himself aboveboard! S.R.Ayyangar, Bangalore

Shiv Kumar Mishra said...

We tend to ignore the fact that many of our so called VIPs have been found to involved in several crimes. We have been witness to our parliamentarians taking people with them to help them settle in foreign countries.

We tend to ignore the fact that nations have right to protect their citizens from terrorist acts because we as a nation have not been able to do protect ours.

We are a nation suffering from a disease, called VIP syndrome and incidently Shahrukh Khan is a VIP, more so because he is close to establishment and people in power.

tys said...

i concur :)...man, if i hadnt written mine before i read this, i wud hve assumed that u r me..now, tht wud have been slightly confusing...