Los Angeles/New Delhi : The surname Khan is a loaded word these days. By an uncanny coincidence it has got both Shahrukh Khan and Sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan in a spot of trouble with immigration authorities. While Shahrukh was “detained” at a US airport — the third time in seven years – Amjad Ali’s visa application was rejected by the UK High Commission for no rhyme or reason.
Khan was in the US on a visit to Yale University and was accompanied by Nita Ambani, wife of Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani. He was understood to have been travelling in a private plane. This was not the first time that Khan was detained at an American airport by immigration officials. In April 2012, he was detained at the White Plains airport near New York for over two hours. After this incident, Khan had said, “Whenever I start feeling too arrogant about myself I always take a trip to America. The immigration guys kicked the star out of stardom.”
On Friday, SRK lost no time in expressing disappointment on social media. “I fully understand & respect security with the way the world is, but to be detained at US immigration every damn time really, really sucks,” the actor tweeted after being detained at the Los Angeles airport.
“The brighter side is while waiting I caught some really nice Pokemons,” the 50-year-old actor said in another tweet referring to the widely popular web game. Later, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia in the US Department of State Nisha Desai Biswal apologised for the “hassle” Khan faced at the airport. “Sorry for the hassle at the airport: even American diplomats get pulled for extra screening,” Biswal tweeted.
Sources told PTI that while Ambani and the rest of SRK’s group were cleared immediately, Khan was stopped and was given immigration clearance only after about two hours. Yale University officials had to contact and speak with US officials in Washington when they were informed that Khan was held up at the airport. After the matter started trending in the social media, US Ambassador to India Richard Verma apologised to the actor and said the US is working to ensure that it does not happen again.
The 70-year-old Sarod maestro, who was to perform at the Royal Festival Hall in UK next month, said he is “shocked and appalled” at the rejection of his visa application.
Also Read: US apologises to SRK
Asked about the reason for the rejection of his visa application, a UK High Commission Spokesperson merely said that the mission does not comment on individual cases.
Tagging Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj in his tweet, Khan said, “My UK visa rejected. This is extremely sad for artists who are spreading the message of love & peace.”
The artist has been performing almost every year in the UK since the early 70s. Expressing disappointment over the UK denial, Amjad’s son Amaan Ali said, “This has never happened before. In our country this is not cool.
“It is very sad that it has happened to him. He is someone who has worked all his life for the country and peace. The government should take interest in why the UK is doing this,” he added.