Shahrukh Khan goes through additional questioning at USA Customs and Immigration
Shahrukh Khan (SRK), the iconic Indian Movie Star and the king of Bollywood, was subject of additional inspection and questioning by the immigration officers at the Newark airport, New Jersey. He was en route to Chicago to attend an event related to Indian Independence day celebrations.
SRK claims that he was singled out due to his Muslim last name – Khan. He added that the immigration officer was not convinced with any of his explanation about the trip.
The US Immigration and Customs office denies that his last name had anything to do with the additional questioning; he was stopped due to missing baggage. As per the statement from the Customs, everything was done professionally and by the book. It is common for a customs officer to ask someone to step aside for additional inspection if they are not satisfied with the interview.
It is ironic that SRK was in USA earlier this year shooting a Hindi movie titled ‘ My name is Khan’. The film is about the experiences of a Muslim in America.
Another remote possibility is that it was all planned by SRK; a thought that I could not resist.Considering how good an actor he is, he may have staged the whole drama. This incident turned out to be a very good publicity for him and his upcoming movie. Everybody is now talking about ‘My Name is Khan’ all of a sudden, which will be released worldwide soon.
Most of the Americans have no exposure to the Bollywood dramas, so they are bound to treat any Indian – VIP or not – the same way, especially when they don’t recognize the person as a big shot, like in this case. The department of ‘homeland security and the immigration system’ in USA is very strict. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the paranoia is everywhere. A Muslim last name, Khan, does not help either, even though the Customs Office deny any profiling based on last names.
While SRK deserve the VIP treatment, the American Customs system does not operate based on VIP identity, you can ask the Hollywood star and politicians. Recall the recent event from earlier this month when former President Bill Clinton brought home two freed U.S. journalists from North Korea. The first people to greet the plane were the immigration officers. Everybody who comes from abroad has to go through them, even the former President. That is the policy; that is the process. If the immigration officers had known SRK, the treatment may have been a little different, may be the process a little faster, but not totally eliminated.
It is unfortunate that SRK had to live through this experience. However, India may take a lesson from the incident. In India, everything is about VIP treatment. You better be famous (VIP) or rich (so you can bribe your way through the system) to move through the checkpoints quickly and without hassle.
It is about time that we learn from this. In India, the power abuse and corruption are our biggest enemies. We should rather have everybody properly inspected when they get into India. If you remember the massacre of innocent people at the Taj Hotel in Mumbai last year, the intruders came from Pakistan. Maybe we could have averted the whole thing if our immigration system was more vigilant. It still is not too late.
As for as SRK, he has been to USA so many times, this is probably his only visits where he had to put up with all this. Hopefully this does not affect his travels to USA, or his views about the country.
I still think that SRK won by the end of the day, and we learned a very valuable lessons: Watch ‘May Name is Khan’ when it opens in theaters.
Well done Mr. Khan! You continue to surprise us all.
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