Article first published as US Paranoia Irks Indian Government on Blogcritics.
Ever since the war on terrorism was announced by the US under the presidency of George W Bush, its people have become sceptical of Muslims and everyone who looks like a Muslim. People have been subjected to inappropriate checking methods particularly at airports. Indian people were harassed several times at airports and on board. Even Indian officials are not spared from embarrassing checking from the American airport officials.
Last year, India’s Ex-President A P J Abdul Kalam was frisked by the staff of Continental Airlines before he boarded a flight to the US even at an Indian airport. When India expressed its protest, Continental Airlines apologised for searching Mr Kalam.
Sari is the traditional dress of the Indian women, which covers major part of the body except hands and face. On December 4, one of the Indian ambassadors Meera Shankar was picked out of a security line and frisked openly in front of passengers at Jackson-Evers international airport. She came there to deliver an address in a university of Mississippi with an invitation from the university authorities. The officials of the university accompanied Mrs Meera Shankar to the airport. In addition, airport security officer was escorting her. They informed the airport staff that she was the ambassador, yet she was not spared.
US homeland security secretary said at that time the checking was appropriate. Some opposition parties in India demanded the government to subject the US envoy to security searches on flights. After strong protest from Indian foreign minister calling the incident unacceptable, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed concern about the incident.
It has come to known that India’s UN envoy, Hardeep Puri, was asked to remove his turban at an airport in Houston, Texas, two weeks ago. When he refused to do so, he was detained in a holding room. Turban wearing is the religious tradition for Indian Sikhs who are supposed to keep all hair intact and cover it with turban dress. The turban is removed only at intimate movements such as washing hair. The Sikhs consider their turban as a symbol of pride, self-respect and piety. Foreign Minister S M Krishna said the matter was taken to the US authorities.
India’s Civil Aviation Minister Mr Praful Patel faced such an uncomfortable movement in September at Chicago airport. Former Defence Minister Mr George Fernades and famous actor Shah Rukh Khan also experienced the same unwarranted checking previously.
Normally, high-ranking officials such as envoys and ministers are immune from security checking at airports. Still, even after several incidents and apologies, the incidents are recurring.
Actually, after Wikileaks unearthed diplomatic cables from US envoys around the world to the US state department, US diplomats are proved involving in collecting secret information from the foreign governments through every possible way. It is nothing but espionage. It reveals that the US envoys are actually a threat to internal security of various countries. The US’ hypocrisy, and hegemonic diplomacy revealed in its diplomatic cables constitute a strong case to reject the US as a reliable partner to any country in the world.