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Shahrukh detained at US airport yet again; India says ‘mechanical’ sorry not enough

New Delhi, Apr 13 (PTI): India asserted on Friday that the “mechanical apology” from the US for the detention of Bollywood star Shahrukh Khan at a New York airport was not “adequate” and that it will take up the issue with the highest authorities in that country.

Shahrukh, on his way to address students at Yale University, was detained by immigration officials for nearly two hours after arriving from India in a private plane at White Plains Airport, which is about 53km from Manhattan. He had come with Nita Ambani, wife of Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani, whose daughter studies at Yale.

While Nita and the rest of their group were cleared immediately, Khan was stopped and was given immigration clearance only after about two hours, following the intervention of the Indian consulate general. After the consul-general’s intervention, US customs and border protection authorities expressed “profound” apology in a letter to them.

However, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna has asked Ambassador Nirupama Rao to take up the matter with the highest US authorities.

“Repeated problem for same person followed by clearance on account of Consulate intervention and mechanical apology is not adequate,” Ministry of External Affairs sources said.

According to the sources, the letter by the immigration department said that Khan’s name was “flagged” in the system and airport people needed approval of “senior” authorities to clear him.

But Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah dismissed the incident and said such detentions happened “all the time and to all sorts of people”.

“Honestly, what's the big deal?? This airport detention thing happens all the time and to all sorts of people. Get over it,” Omar tweeted.

For Shahrukh, the latest detention was not the first, as he jokingly told his audience at Yale later. He had been detained similarly in 2009. “Whenever I start feeling too arrogant about myself I always take a trip to America. The immigration guys kicked the star out of stardom,” he said with some sarcasm while addressing the students at the University.

He added that he always has his “small victories” even in such circumstances. “They (immigration officials) always ask me how tall I am and I always lie and say 5 feet 10 inches. Next time I am going to get more adventurous. (If they ask me) What colour are you, I am going to say white,” he said.