No decision on Indian scientist's visa yet: US

The denial came after a consular official suggested he was working in chemical warfare and bio terrorism.

india Updated: Feb 17, 2006 15:37 IST

The US embassy has stated that no final decision had been taken on reputed Indian scientist Goverdhan Mehta's application for a visa.

Earlier, a newspaper report stated that he was turned away by the consulate in Chennai.

A statement issued by the US embassy in Delhi on Friday said, "No final decision has been taken on professor Mehta's visa application pending receipt of additional information necessary to process his visa request."

Mehta, a former director of Bangalore's prestigious Indian Institute of Science and a member of the Prime Minister's Scientific Advisory Committee, was reportedly denied a visa.

The denial came after a consular official suggested he was working in "chemical warfare and bio terrorism".

But the US embassy statement said: "We are committed to treating each applicant with dignity and respect, but we are also obliged to obtain sufficient information necessary for properly evaluating each application."

Mehta had applied for the visa in Chennai on February 9 after he was invited as a visiting professor by the University of Florida at Gainesville.

A top scientist in organic chemistry, Mehta has travelled to the US at least on 20 earlier occasions.

He is reported to have expressed disappointment after the consular officer questioned his credentials.

"This is the most degrading experience of my life. It is reminiscent of American ignorance and arrogance," Mehta told the newspaper.

Subsequent to the report, the US statement said Mehta was welcome to continue his application at any time he chooses by contacting the chief of the consular section in Chennai.

While clarifying its position on the Mehta episode, the US embassy was silent on why it failed to provide a visa on time to another atomic scientist, Placid Rodriguez.

Rodriguez, invited to present papers in two symposia in the US, also appeared before the American consulate in Chennai on February 16.

He was asked to answer a mandatory questionnaire by e-mail as he came under a special category known as Visa Mantis.

This special category is for certain sensitive scientific and technological areas and requires intra-agency clearance.

Rodriguez was reportedly told this information would be forwarded to Washington for clearance.

He was also reminded that there was no chance of a response before his scheduled departure on March 8.

The officials apparently told him to reschedule his departure.

First Published: Feb 17, 2006 15:37 IST