PAT DOWN OF SAREE-CLAD MEERA SHANKAR AT U.S. AIRPORT HAS IRKED CONTROVERSIES

Posted: September 29, 2011 in News, The NamoLeague Times
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Indian traditional attire – Saree had to undergo yet another test. In a recent humiliating incident, Meera Shankar, India’s ambassador to the United States was singled out by the airport security in Mississippi and was patted down for wearing a saree. Meera, who is considered for her grace and intelligence, had to undergo a humiliating security check at the Jackson-Evers International Airport in Mississippi on December 4. She was going to board her flight to Baltimore after taking part in a programme of the Mississippi State University. Witnesses who were present during the incident said that Meera Shankar was singled out because she was wearing saree. She was taken to the VIP room and also pulled out of the line for the screening process. Later she was also pat down by a female TSA (Transportation Security Administration) officers. Despite the fact that she presented her diplomatic credentials, she had to undergo a hands-on search. According to the Transport and Security Administration guidelines, diplomats are subjected to normal screening when they present their diplomatic credentials and when they are escorted with security, but an exception was made in case of Meera Shankar just because of her saree. This is the height of embarrassment not only for the Indian diplomats but also for the national female attire of India which is considered to be extremely graceful all over the world. It was a real shock for the Indian Government and the incident has irked the External Affairs ministry which voiced strong concerns regarding the pat down and summoned US deputy chief of mission Donald Lu and threatened to review privileges granted to US diplomats if such incidents are repeated. India also asked the US to sensitize the authorities at all its airports to cultural and religious sensitivities of foreign diplomats. Janos Radvanyi, the Hungarian diplomat-academic at whose invitation Meera visited Jackson, said he plans to send a formal apology letter to the ambassador, and he expects other state and university leaders will, as well. However, US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said that she looked into the matter and found nothing new in it. She added that diplomats are subject to the same basic screening as other passengers at US airports. On the other hand, when asked about the incident during a press conference with the Nigerian Foreign Minister, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had said: “We are obviously concerned about it. We will be certainly looking into it and trying to determine what had happened and what we could do to prevent such incidents in the future.” Incidents like these are not new. Last year, America’s Continental Airlines had apologized to former Indian president Abdul Kalam for frisking him before he boarded a US-bound flight. Read original article at: http://epaper.namoleague.com/EpaperArticle.aspx?title=PAT%20DOWN%20OF%20SAREE-CLAD%20MEERA%20SHANKAR%20AT%20U.S.%20AIRPORT%20HAS%20IRKED%20CONTROVERSIES_346

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