Uttar Pradesh’s urban development minister Azam Khan has either a very heightened sense of self-importance or is suffering from some sort of delusional incapacity. What else explains his deduction that a very short detention at Boston’s Logan International Airport late last week was a conspiracy hatched by external affairs minister Salman Khurshid to defame him outside India?
The detention — which according to some media reports was for about 10 minutes — seems to really have set a cat among the pigeons in the UP government. Reacting to it UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav cancelled his talk at Harvard University and also chose to skip a reception hosted by the Indian consul general at New York.
A routine check is now being sought to be made into an international incident. Anyone who has travelled to the US, Europe or Israel will testify to often intrusive security checks. But, on the other hand, every country has the right to put in place its own security systems and most passengers may grumble but do accept that this is for the safety of everyone.
Mr Khan’s charge that he was singled out because he is a Muslim is really over the top. It is highly unlikely that the US security was lying in wait for Mr Khan in order to humiliate him. The UP minister is not the first person to be ‘humiliated’ by the US authorities.
Actor Shah Rukh Khan and former Union minister George Fernandes were also subjected to such security checks. Most notably, former president APJ Abdul Kalam was frisked twice, once in 2008 and then in 2011. While Kalam played down the incident, the leader from UP seems to be milking it for all it is worth.
Given that the Azam Khan ‘incident’ comes a few days after the Boston bombings, it is entirely possible that the airport security officials were doubly cautious. Many of our netas seem to be allergic to being treated on a par with ordinary people, given that they are used to VIP treatment at home.
If such checks are such a nuisance to Mr Khan, all we can say is stay at home. This is infinitely preferable to going abroad and creating such a shindig which really does no credit to him and gives the impression that Indian egos are so fragile as to be hurt by a common and garden security check.