Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan was briefly detained at the Los Angeles airport on Thursday, the third time in recent years, possibly for a close match with an entry on the United States terror watchlist.
An exasperated Khan tweeted that the detention “really really sucks”, drawing an apology from a US State Department official. In a second tweet, Khan said he played Pokemon while awaiting his clearance.
The actor, whose 2010 film My Name is Khan dealt with racial profiling in the United States, was eventually allowed to go after which he tweeted out his reaction.
I fully understand & respect security with the way the world is, but to be detained at US immigration every damn time really really sucks.— Shah Rukh Khan (@iamsrk) August 12, 2016
As the news quickly circulated on social media, US ambassador Richard Verma apologised to SRK on Twitter for his detention at the airport. The actor responded by thanking him for his concern.
Sorry for the trouble at LAX @iamsrk. We are working to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Your work inspires millions, including in the US.— Rich Verma (@USAmbIndia) August 12, 2016
Nisha Biswal, US State Department’s assistant secretary on south and central Asian Affairs, also tweeted to Khan that she was “sorry for the hassle”, adding that US diplomats too faced such situations.
Sorry for the hassle at the airport, @iamsrk - even American diplomats get pulled for extra screening!— Nisha Biswal (@NishaBiswal) August 12, 2016
Indian government sources expressed frustration at Khan being stopped again without any reason.
It was not immediately clear how he was cleared finally — on his own, or after the intervention of authorities. Officials refused to share details.
Sources said the actor had not escalated the matter to the government of India or US authorities.
Despite his unenviable situation, Khan displayed his funny side when he tweeted how he spent the time during his detention.
The brighter side is while waiting caught some really nice Pokemons.— Shah Rukh Khan (@iamsrk) August 12, 2016
He was detained by US immigration at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey for about two hours in 2009 after his name came up on a terror alert list. He was travelling to the US at the time to publicise his movie My Name Is Khan, ironically about racial profiling of Muslims in the US.
He was then detained in 2012 at Westchester County airport near New York while travelling in a private jet with Nita Ambani, wife of business magnate Mukesh Ambani. At the time, the star had been invited to deliver a lecture at Yale University.
“Whenever I start feeling too arrogant about myself, I always take a trip to America,” he had then said in his address to students at Yale. “The immigration guys kicked the star out of stardom.”