New York, Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s questioning at Newark Liberty International Airport by immigration officials was the talk of the annual India Day parade here. The parade is held to celebrate India’s independence.
Even before the 29th parade started at Madison Avenue and 41st Street Sunday, Mehal Kadakia, 26, a business analyst, and two friends had spent the drive to the city discussing whether Khan should have been singled out, New York Times reported Monday.
“In my opinion, they were doing their job,” Kadakia was quoted as saying at a festival next to Madison Square Park after the parade.
“I’m sure as an actor travelling, he has a lot of luggage, and if that seemed suspicious, I’d rather have them check and make sure he’s OK.”
Kadakia observed it’s not as if being stopped at the airport in the post-Sep 11 world is new to anyone.
“I’ve been stopped many times,” he said.
Santripti Vellody, 30, a business development manager for a South Asian satellite television channel, said she was disappointed that one of India’s biggest stars had been subjected to such blatant profiling.
“It’s absolutely disrespectful to him,” she said, “and it’s only based on his religion and last name — he has a Muslim name — and I don’t think that’s right.”
Vellody said that her husband, Mohamed Roshman Manoli, also has a Muslim name and that each of the last four times that they had flown out of John F. Kennedy International Airport, he had been stopped for questioning.
“I never get stopped but I have to wait for him for two hours every single time,” she said. “It’s not random.”
Shah Rukh Khan’s latest film “My Name is Khan” — produced by Shah Rukh and director Karan Johar — is set against the Sep 11, 2001 terror attacks and examines their impact on an Indian Muslim living in the US.
Miki Patel, chairwoman of the culture committee of the Federation of Indian Association that held the parade, said that she learned about Khan’s questioning during a meeting of parade organisers Saturday.
“I personally feel that the rules should apply to each and every one who enters this country — the law is the law,” said Patel, 53, a dance instructor from Edison, New Jersey.