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Delhi ducks a fresh irritant

Darjeeling, Dec. 21:An American citizen with an Indian “lookout circular” against him was today detained on the India-Nepal border but pushed back into Nepal because New Delhi didn’t want to escalate the ongoing diplomatic row with Washington, sources said.

It’s not clear for what alleged crime the Union home ministry had issued the lookout circular against Minnesota resident Scott Daniel Turner, 42.

Administrative sources said Turner would probably have been arrested had he been a national of any country other than the US.

Turner, holder of a Person of Indian Origin (PIO) card as the spouse of an Indian citizen, was detained around 3pm at the immigration check-post at Rangigang, about 30km from Darjeeling.

“(Turner) married Elina, daughter of Nikhuhe Kinney of the Kushibill area of Dimapur, Nagaland, in 2009. Apart from people who have their roots in India, the spouse of an Indian citizen or of a Person of Indian Origin is eligible for the PIO card,” an administrative source said.

A PIO card holder does not need a visa to visit India and can stay for up to six months at a stretch.

“Turner was detained as he had a lookout circular against him. His PIO card was impounded and we have handed him over to Nepal police to be taken to the Indian embassy in Kathmandu,” Darjeeling superintendent of police Kunal Aggarwal said.

Turner, who carried a US passport bearing the number 075891329, will be sent back to his country by the Indian embassy in Nepal, sources said. A police source said the American knew he had a lookout circular against him.

“During his one-hour interrogation, he said he feared arrest at Indian airports and therefore decided to travel to Nagaland by road from Nepal,” he said.

“A lookout circular does not give the history of the (alleged) offence,” an intelligence source said.

“Soon after he was detained, authorities at the Foreigners Regional Registration Office and the Union home ministry were informed. It was under their directions that Turner was handed over to the Nepal police around 4.30pm. The Indian government does not want to escalate the ongoing diplomatic row.”

Turner had visited India in 2004, and later in 2009 when he got married in Dimapur.