Outrage over Kalam's frisking, US says sorry
The US' government has formally apologised to former president APJ Abdul Kalam for the humiliation he had to undergo when security officials frisked him at New York's JFK airport on September 29. HT reports.Raging row | Kalam frisked twice in US | Security hassledelhi Updated: Nov 14, 2011 01:02 IST
The United States' government has formally apologised to former president APJ Abdul Kalam for the humiliation he had to undergo when security officials frisked him at New York's JFK airport on September 29.
The apology came on Sunday, the day Hindustan Times broke the story on Kalam being frisked at JFK airport and his jacket and shoes being taken for a check after he had boarded a flight.
Security officials at the JFK airport had forced the crew of an Air India plane to reopen the door as they wanted to frisk Kalam a second time after he had been screened once.
Despite protests from the airline crew that he was India's former head of state, the security personnel took away Kalam's jacket and shoes for a check. The test is meant to detect the presence of explosives.
There were angry reactions in India to the incident. External affairs minister SM Krishna spoke to Indian ambassador to the US Nirupama Rao, directing her to take up the matter in writing at the "highest level" in Washington.
MEA officials said Krishna has sought a detailed report from its mission.
This was not the first time Kalam was frisked by US officials. In April 2009, officials of America's Continental Airlines frisked him at the Delhi airport.
"We had launched a strong protest with the US and they immediately apologised," MEA spokesperson Vishnu Prakash told HT.
The US embassy said ambassador Peter Burleigh had personally delivered a letter from the US transportation security administration to Kalam, and a similar letter was delivered to the government of India.
"In these letters, the US government extended its apology that appropriate procedures for expedited screening of dignitaries had not been followed. We are actively working to prevent similar incidents in the future," the statement said.
Maintaining that it "deeply values and appreciates" the strong relationship and partnership with India, the US said, "We are confident that despite this regrettable incident, we will continue working closely with India in the many areas of our strategic partnership".