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US regrets pat down of Indian envoy

world Updated: Dec 11, 2010 02:03 IST
Yashwant Raj

The US on Thursday expressed concern over the patting down of Indian ambassador Meera Shankar at an airport in Mississippi last week and reached out to her regretting the incident.

“We obviously are concerned about it,” said US secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

Around the same time the state department reached out to Ambassador Shankar.

“The US department of state has reached out to the ambassador and has regretted what all happened,” said Indian embassy spokesperson Virendar Paul.

Shankar was pulled out of a security line at Jackson airport in Mississippi for a secondary screening despite the fact that she had passed throuh the metal frame without setting off an alarm.

Indian embassy officials said Shankar was singled out for her sari, an unfamiliar dress in this country.

The Transportation Security Administration, which runs security at all US airports, defended the pat down saying no one is exempted.

Clinton spoke about a review on Thursday, but did not elaborate. “But certainly, we will be looking into it and not only responding to the Indian foreign minister but also reviewing the policies.”

Indian external affairs minister S M Krishna had called the incident “unacceptable”.

The pat downs are immensely unpopular with some Americans – recent polls showed that most people feel incovenienced by it but consider it a necessary evil. Some flyers have vowed to not fly till it’s ended.

Not every passenger is subjecte to a pat down. It’s a secondary screening administered on a passenger who sets off a metal frame alarm or something is found suspicious during a body screening.

Or if he or she refused a body imaging security check.