MEA asks Indian Embassy to take up Azam Khan's detention issue

Last Updated: Fri, Apr 26, 2013 05:51 hrs

The Ministry of External Affairs on Friday asked the Indian Embassy in Washington to take up the matter of detention of Uttar Pradesh Minister Azam Khan in Boston, United States.

"The ministry has asked our embassy in Washington DC to take up this matter with the appropriate authorities. We have received reports from our consulate in NYC on this incident," said Syed Akbaruddin, the spokesperson of MEA.

The Samajwadi Party on Friday lodged a formal protest with the Indian Government over the detention of Azam Khan, one of the party's senior leaders and a minister in the Uttar Pradesh Government, in Boston, United States.

Reacting to news and reports of Khan's detention, senior SP leader Ram Asrey Kushwaha said in Kanpur that he was not at all surprised by the incident, as this has happened in the past with several Indian leaders, film stars and citizens.

"We get to see the culture of America through this. Whatever happened with Azam Khan is condemnable. The whole of India is angry," Kushwaha said. "First of all, the Americans invite, and then, they misbehave with the guests.

The Samajwadi Party will complain about this to the Indian Government," he added. Media reports said Khan, who is accompanying Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav for a talk at Harvard University, was detained briefly for questioning at the Boston Logan International Airport on Wednesday.

He was detained for about ten minutes for "further questioning" after the UP team landed in a scheduled British Airways flight from India.

The Indian Embassy has raised the issue with the U.S. State Department, embassy spokesman, M Sridharan was quoted, as saying.

The UP team was received by Indian embassy officials and were greeted courteously by US Immigration officials who also helped them fill arrival forms. A woman officer, however, took Khan to an adjacent room "for further questioning."

The extended interview lasted for 10 minutes and the minister was cleared. An upset Khan reportedly raised a din in the immigration area, alleging that he was detained because he was a Muslim and sought an apology from the officer, who reportedly said she was doing her duty.

At one point, the arguments reportedly became loud and the woman officer threatened to file a complaint to restrain the Indian minister from abusing her for discharging her duties as per the manual of the Department of Homeland Security.

She reportedly explained to the minister that additional interviews or questioning should not be construed as an insult or suspicion in view of security threats and guidelines on entry of visitors to the US. Higher officials intervened and Khan was escorted out of the airport.

The visiting team is due to go to New York on Friday evening after their Boston engagements and is scheduled to leave for India on Saturday on a British Airways flight.(ANI)

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