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
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:
- 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?
- 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.
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
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."