Seeking to downplay the "unfortunate procedure" at Newark airport under which he was questioned for two hours, Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan on Sunday said he would not demand an apology even as US authorities denied that he was singled out because of his name or Asian identity.
"I think it is a procedure that needs to be followed. But it is an unfortunate procedure," a visibly calm Khan told PTI in Chicago on the sidelines of a function.
The 43-year-old actor's comments came a day after he was detained and questioned at Newark airport by US immigration officials after his name matched with some of those on a common checklist, sparking angry reactions back home. He was let off at the intervention of Indian Consulate officials.
Asked whether he would seek an apology for the incident, Khan, who was here to take part in the South Asian Carnival on the occasion of India's Independence Day, replied in the negative.
Soon after the incident, the actor had termed it as "uncalled for", saying that "I did feel bad. I felt angry. I
am glad my family wasn't there. God knows what they would have done to them."
"I was really hassled at the American Airport because of my name being Khan...It is a Muslim name and I think the
name is common on their checklist," said Khan, who has also figured in US magazine Newsweek's list of 50 most powerful people in the world.
Meanwhile, US Customs and Border Protection spokesman Elmer Camacho denied that Khan was detained and questioned for two hours at the Newark airport or that the actor was singled out because of his name or Asian identity.
The allegations "happen to be incorrect," he said, adding Khan was inspected because his baggage had not arrived.
Part of the inspection process is to examine the baggage. However, his bags were not available due to the airline not loading them on the flight he arrived on, the spokesman said. That is why his inspection took longer as the airline could not provide his bags for inspection.
"His documents and papers were checked, which were found to be in correct order," Camacho told PTI.
After a "normal" check at the airport, Khan was taken to a different room where he was waiting for his turn since many other people were already there. "The entire process ended in a little over one hour," the spokesman said.
The procedure, he said, was handled in a "professional manner" and there was no evidence of Khan being pointed out because of his name or Asian identity.
To a question on Khan's contention that he was asked by immigration officials about his work in the US, the spokesman said, "it's our policy not to discuss all specific (details) of any traveller". However, when any traveller enters the US, he or she is subjected to inspection, he added.