AFTER THE wrongful arrest of 12 Indians in the Netherlands recently comes the wrongful detention of two Indians in the US for questioning. They were stopped just 15 minutes to takeoff and were let off two hours later. They missed their flight. Kashmiri santoor player Bhajan Sopori and his son were detained at O'Hare airport in Chicago on August 23.
"Simply because I was wearing a flowing kurta and have long hair and a flowing beard," he told HT. Sopori is a Padmashree recepient.
"It's not my fault if I look like an Afghan," he said. "It was quite humiliating that we were questioned because we were Kashmiris. My son writes Abhay Rustum. What's wrong with this name? But they had questions for that too."
Sopori thinks Homeland Security officers got suspicious because of the mention of Srinagar in their passports - as their place of birth. Though the officers were quite apologetic later. Sopori said it was a humiliating situation for them as "everyone was giving us these very strange looks".
"Why couldn't they start the questioning earlier?" he said. The santoor player said he was very disappointed, especially since he had gone to take part in the Independence Day celebrations there and, equally important for him, had a long association with the US -- going back to his time in St Louis, Missouri, as a student.
At the chief ministers’ conference in Delhi on Tuesday, J&K CM Ghulam Nabi Azad had cited the detention and questioning of the father-son duo to substantiate his claim that residents of the state were being profiled. Azad urged his counterparts not to profile J&K residents in their states. He asked the Centre to write to foreign ministers of all countries, especially of western nations, not to treat them dishonourably.