Krishna on Meera Shankar being patted down: 'It is unacceptable'

Krishna on Meera Shankar being patted down: 'It is unacceptable'

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New Delhi India's envoy to Washington, Meera Shankar, is at the centre of a diplomatic storm.

On December 4, Ms Shankar who was travelling from the American state of Mississippi to Baltimore in Maryland was pulled out of an airport security line and patted down by an American security official. That despite letting them know her diplomatic status.

Reports say security singled her out because she was wearing a sari. Ms Shankar presented her diplomatic papers to the officers but witnesses said she was subjected to a hands-on search. (Forum: Should India formally protest to US?)

Foreign Minister SM Krishna has called the incident unacceptable and asked for a report.

"This is unacceptable to India and we are going to take it up with the government of the United States and I hope that things could be resolved so that unpleasant incidents do not recur," Krishna said.

But former US envoy Ronen Sen says the rules in America are much tougher and do not exempt ambassadors from such searches.

"Firstly, it's not new. Because I've had a similar experience since 2004 to 2009 when I was there and I've had similar experiences in Germany and other countries. So one, it is strictly not restricted to the United States. Second, the security screening at airports is applicable to all dignitaries of all countries with the exception of Union Cabinet ministers and above on official visits, not on private visits. It does not cover ambassadors, Governors, Chief Ministers or Union Ministers of State," he said. (Watch)

This isn't the first time this has happened to an Indian dignitary. Just a couple of months ago, Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel was detained and questioned at Chicago airport because his name was similar to someone on a no-fly list. But with the incident involving Meera Shankar, the Indian government is now saying this is simply not on.

Story First Published: December 09, 2010 13:09 IST

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