The Examination of Shah Rukh Khan’s Crown Jewels

An Embarrassment named Shah Rukh Khan

The  link above takes you to the New York Times article re: the episode.

What Shah Rukh Khan, also referred to as SRK, underwent was a secondary interrogation &
check which appears to have been fully justified given the
circumstances & C.B.P. procedures. It appears that SRK didn’t have
or refused to give the local address or the name of the hotel he would
be staying in and also claimed his baggage was not with him & had
been misplaced. Under those circumstances they were quite justified in checking him out &
interrogating him further.

SRK, acted like a typical spoilt brat.
He also seems to be the superstar currently who is very much in with
the Congress party in India judging from their prompt actions and the no. of
people from that party who talked about the grave injustice done to him and expressed indignation on
his behalf.

SRK, instead of going through this experience stoically like most other people would have,
decided to milk it for publicity & sympathy. Accordingly he quite
exaggerated the whole episode and even told outright lies.

He tried to drum up sympathy by hinting that he is being persecuted because he is a Muslim. Despite his mother and his wife having been Hindus and despite the fact that being from a minority religious community had never ever handicapped him in the least from becoming the reigning superstar of Bollywood, he did not have the slightest hesitation in using the ‘religion’ card. Is it purely coincidental that one of the objectives for his trip to the U.S. was to promote his forthcoming film "My Name Is Khan" which apparently depicts a Muslim guy being racially profiled and discriminated against in the U.S.

Contrary to his
expectations, he and his vocal supporters, experienced a fair amount of
backlash from sensible Indians among others, questioning the V.I.P.
culture and the premise that he should be accorded special privileges.

C.B.P. authorities set the record straight promptly which was something
not quite expected by him or his supporters presumably. Faced with the facts and the considerable criticism from large numbers of ordinary, sensible Indians, SRK and his cohorts started backtracking and went into damage control mode.

Here are some pertinent observations about the entire episode:

understand he is a frequent visitor to the U.S. – for shootings,
events, promotions etc., Like many other people he goes there either
for work, to earn money or for leisure sometimes. He would be well
aware of the Immigration scenario there specially post 911. If he
hasn’t undergone secondary interrogation even once during his many
visits, he must consider himself extremely lucky. And yes while you are
waiting for your Immigration check to be completed or even for your
checked-in baggage they don’t allow you to make phone calls. That’s
true of the U.S. and many other countries as well. In a no. of
countries they have sniffer dogs checking you and your baggage out for
drugs & other prohibited items and force you to discard even
innocuous food items like apples or oranges that you may have carried
in. Well that’s their laid down procedure & if you don’t like it,
don’t travel to those places. No matter how much you whinge about these
procedures all these places including the U.S. feel they have very good
reasons for implementing whatever they have done & will not change
a thing just because some people don’t like it. That’s the reality.

The duplicity of SRK is amply evident from the following:

  1. The whole process
    lasted 66 minutes which is like one hour & certainly not the 2
    hours that he has been talking about. Part of that time was spent in
    waiting & searching since there were a no. of people ahead of him
    waiting for secondary checks and since he couldn’t retrieve his baggage
    because the airlines had misplaced it. Contrary to his initial claims, he was not detained. They didn’t apparently do a
    strip search or a full cavity search so what is he outraged or
    humiliated about anyway? His colleague Sunjay Dutt was picked up for
    terrorism & imprisoned in his own country some years back, wasn’t
    he? Sometime back Amitabh & his son were nabbed for
    trying to pass through the Green Channel in Mumbai India, while
    possessing millions of dollars worth of dutiable goods & items that
    they had picked up during their travels overseas? Even if they knew who
    SRK was generally (quite unlikely ; there may be one or two exceptions)
    what’s to prevent a lookalike, with a forged passport and a false story
    from getting in for questionable purposes? And who has exactly
    certified SRK as a ‘global saint’ who never transgresses any processes,
    laws or rules?
  2. The first opportunity he got, he called up his
    so-called VIP friends – Congress MPs, Ministers – who then got on the
    line to the Indian Embassy in U.S. asking them to intervene on behalf
    of SRK. Contrary to misleading reports by sections of the media, by the
    time the Indian embassy officials called him up on his mobile to find
    out what exactly the problem was, he was past Immigration, out of the
    airport and on his way to Atlantic City.
  3. Initially
    he gave telephonic interviews to the Indian media that he was outraged,
    insulted, humiliated etc., and his VIP friends and hangers-on in India
    turned up the volume further. The ‘let’s forget this, this was merely
    procedure’ etc., statements followed quite a bit later when the large-scale criticism & disapproval from thousands of his fellow countrymen surfaced in cyberspace.

Yes the U.S. authorities do
racial & religious profiling & have elaborate databases covering specific segments even though they won’t ever admit so publicly. Yes they can be
heavy-handed and even  paranoid at times, especially after 911. Fact is they have managed to
keep their country safe from any major terrorist incident since 911.
Given the repeated instances of terrorism in India and the
administration’s pitiable inability to prevent recurrences and even
track down the chain of local collaborators & abettors, don’t you
wish that India did it too? There was a lot of media coverage after the
attack on the Indian parliament and then after the 26/11 carnage in Mumbai. What has
happened in concrete terms to ensure and even assure citizens that such
instances will not recur? There are innumerable V.I.P.s in India who
subvert all systems and get away with blue murder anywhere &
everywhere often inconveniencing ordinary citizens & residents in
the process!

I think all reasonable & mature Indians should
kick SRK’s ass in as many ways as possible till he comes down to earth
and gives up the notion that he is a V.I.P. and some ‘global icon’ and
hence very special & privileged too! I also think as a fall-out of
this episode, people should ask that inept Home Minister / Internal
Security Minister, Chidambaram, what exactly he has done to prevent
further instances of terrorist activity in India.

The comment reproduced below from ‘Yahoo Buzz’ one of many such exemplifies what an overwhelming number of netizens felt about the whole incident.

"This guy SRK in no way represents the sensible, mature Indian. He is
just a middle-aged spoilt brat who is under the delusion that he has
become a ‘global icon’ just because he is a Bollywood superstar.

The Immigration authorities have clarified that the whole process took
66 minutes,was handled professionally and took that long only because
the airlines had misplaced his checked-in baggage. There is no reason
not to believe them. The only thing damaged in the process was his
bloated ego and his perception that he is entitled to get privileged
treatment anywhere. It is also quite possible that he was trying to get
free publicity & sympathy for his forthcoming film " My Name Is
Khan", which among other things, touches on racial profiling of Muslims
in the U.S.

Should the authorities decide to deny him a VISA henceforth or subject
him to further random checks, including cavity searches during his
future visits, they would be well within their rights to do so."

  1. #1 by Raja on August 19, 2009 - 9:59 AM

    Can’t quite vouch for the complete authenticity of this piece of news but it is intriguing enough to draw attention. News is that SRK was visiting the USA among other things to attend a South Asian Carnival organized by one Farhath Hussain. The TOI had previously reported based on sources in the Mumbai ATS that Farhath Hussain had helped the mafia don Abu Salem in establishing operations in the USA.

  2. #2 by Raja on August 19, 2009 - 10:26 AM

    Listing some interesting sites to visit & track specially for the large no. of comments from readers. Check out the comments sections.Anand Soondas – Times of India blog (also mentioned in the NYT blog which this piece links to) Yahoo blog

  3. #3 by Raja on August 21, 2009 - 4:33 AM

    The dispatch below from the TOI U.S.A. correspondent is revealing:Heat on SRK was because of scanner on Bollywood showsChidanand Rajghatta, TNN 21 August 2009, 12:24am ISTWASHINGTON: The US Customs and Border Protection’s extra scrutiny of megastar Shah Rukh Khan was triggered by Bollywood’s showbiz having comeunder the scanner of law enforcement authorities and intelligence agencies for dodgy financial transactions and alleged underworld links.Khan was questioned closely by CBP agents on his arrival at Newark’s Liberty International Airport last week with emphasis on ascertaining his local US contacts and engagements, an episode that caused an uproar in India, mainly in elite circles. It transpires that Khan was visiting the US primarily for Bollywood shows in Chicago and Houston promoted by brothers Farhath Hussain and Altaf Hussain, with few other local promoters, some of whom are on the radar of authorities in UK, US and India.Although there was no red flag against Shah Rukh Khan’s name itself, it was his local contacts which triggered off the alert, accorded to sources who asked not to be identified. The situation was compounded by the non-arrival of his baggage from London, a particularly sensitive station in American eyes.US intelligence agencies have long been leery of a possible terrorist attack by Islamist extremists from a city dubbed Londonistan, particularly since British passport holders do not need a visa to enter the United States.Farhath Hussain is a London-based businessman who modestly describes himself as the "world’s Number One promoter of Bollywood shows, a showbiz impresario extraordinaire." His brother Altaf Hussain is a Chicago-based businessman in the gas station industry who founded the Lake County South Asian Entertainment Inc. to tap into the Bollywood showbiz market in US after the eclipse of Vijay Taneja, a former Indian partner whose founded a company called Elite Entertainment.According to an industry insider, Farhath Hussain and Vijay Taneja had divvied up Bollywood shows in Europe and the US between then for many years. Both had promoted shows featuring Shah Rukh Khan and a number of other Bollywood stars. But Taneja was convicted in a massive mortgage fraud in the Washington DC area last year and sentence to seven years in the clink, allowing brothers Hussain to capture US territory.Incidentally, the Chicago-based Altaf Hussain bears the same name as the London-based leader of Pakistan’s Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) party, another possible trigger for the CBP red flag. That Altaf Hussain, a key player in Pakistani politics who is frequently accused of sectarian violence (most notably by Imran Khan) was a cab-driver in Chicago before he eventually returned to Pakistan to found MQM to represent Mohajir interests.Taneja invested some of his ill-gotten wealth in Bollywood extravaganzas, including producing a movie starring Himmesh Reshammiya titled "Aap ka Suroor." He was $ 77 million in debt when he declared bankruptcy, a step which led to an investigation into his financial shenanigans which destroyed the lives of many home-owners in suburban Washington.Taneja is currently in prison outside Philadelphia, serving out his sentence even as the Hussain brothers are taking over Bollywood tours in US. Farhath Hussain was till recently managed Shilpa Shetty’s engagements in UK but they are now said to have fallen out, but showbiz insiders credit him with widespread connections in the industry, including with many financiers, which enable him to attract top stars for his US road shows. They said Shah Rukh Khan himself was above board, being a mere pawn in the game, even though he was an acknowledged top draw commanding high fees.US officials declined to go into the specifics of the Shah Rukh Khan episode citing law enforcement sensitivities. "A lot of stuff we discuss with passenger we can’t reveal because of privacy rules," CBP spokesman Elmer Camacho told ToI, while maintaining that the actor was treated with due professional courtesy and the process had not taken two hours as claimed.Comacho also pointed out the actor himself had reeled back from some of the initial comments and acknowledged that the CBP was following a laid-down procedure. Phone numbers listed for brothers Hussain and other promoters of the "South Asia Carnival" went to mailboxes which were full. Messages left to their associate Monty Syed were not returned.Meanwhile, sources who spoke to ToI described a complex web of financial transactions around Bollywood shows in the west, involving layers of players. At the top of the rung are promoters in Mumbai, who sold shows to overseas players such as Farhath Hussain and Vijay Taneja. These guys in turn sold the shows to local promoters in European and US cities, who banked on ticket sales and retail advertisers to recoup the money they spent to bid for the shows.Bollywood-starved NRIs pony up anywhere from $ 25 to $ 500 (for the priciest tickets) to see their favorite stars. Top stars, especially a crowd puller like SRK, could command as much as $ 50,000 per show. One source spoke of an actor who was paid $ 900,000 for an 18-city tour that went from Fort Lauderdale in Florida to Los Angeles, California couple of years back."Many of these transactions are unreported…you can understand why the business is on the scanner of authorities especially because of the shadow of the underworld on the Bollywood showbiz," he said.

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