Did Indians overreact to Shah Rukh Khan being detained?

By Reuters Staff
August 16, 2009

Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan was en route to Chicago for a parade to mark Independence Day when he was detained and questioned at Newark airport.

INDIA-USA/KHANAfter a couple of hours’ interrogation, the 43-year-old actor was allowed to make a call, getting in touch with the Indian consulate who vouched for him and secured his release.

The incident sparked uproar among Khan’s fans in India, who vented their anger over the Internet and in protest marches.

This is not the first time an Indian celebrity has had trouble with U.S. immigration officials and security checks.

Last month, U.S-based carrier Continental Airlines apologised to former Indian president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam for frisking him at New Delhi airport.

On Saturday, Information Minister Ambika Soni said while she could not say if Khan had been detained “on religious grounds, there have been too many instances like these in the U.S. concerning Indians”.

A Times of India report on Sunday said U.S. officials feel some Indian visitors are “needlessly huffy about routine security procedures and there is a broad cultural mismatch”.

Are Indians overreacting? Or is the U.S. taking things a bit too far?

Khan is a celebrity but what about ordinary Indians who travel to the U.S. — do they face racial profiling?


Americans were just following their law.Indians always over react to such things.They expect a VVIP treatment even from others.May Shah Rukh was upset because he did not get a salute from those USA officials as he is used to get in India from all sorts of officers.
Law is equal for all and this could be the reason why There is no terrorist attack after 9/11 in USA because of strigent implimentation of security but here in India where laws are for the common man and not a VVIP ,terrorists strike at will and kill almost every day.Of course in our country a dreaded dacoit could become an MLA or MP and the irony is those who were chasing these murderers day and night in ravines now have to salute the same person after being elected as an MP and obey their orders whether right or wrong
as an obedient servant.This can happen in India only.
Jai Ho.

Posted by ram | Report as abusive

This guy is very very smart..
He don’t leave in present he live in future and know quite well what going to happen..
Combined togather it all looks to me a publicity stunt. And for media a good story for some time…

Posted by Rakesh | Report as abusive

This is simple marketing stunt by SRK…. Many people go through additional security check at US airport just to make sure that he is not illegally entering in country or has some bad intentions. And about profile based on the religion, fact is 90% terrorist across globe are muslims…so chances of selecting these people are more than other…SRK you are big in India that to people watching hindi movies…I won’t be surprised if people don’t recognize you in south India.

Posted by Raj | Report as abusive

Mr.SRK can be super star in Bollywood , but it doesn’t mean he should be know internationally. Some times we over react. Only in India rules and policies will change based on status , not in all the places across the world. I think US has done what should be done as per the policies and procedures.I am not sure whether SRK had required documentation?

Posted by Parthi | Report as abusive

I think Americans are behaving smart. Its only their security which is important not others. They care damn about others.

Posted by srini | Report as abusive

The question here is not about the publicity stunt neither is of the dignity of a celebrity but about the mindset of so called secular country who is unwilling to accept the way of commonsense and logic but to work on computerized protocol.
I mean if u were that US custom official and the person at front of your desk is saying that he is a very well known actor wouldn’t you had mind confirming it when it takes only a few seconds to do so? especially when it was said that he had all the required papers in order! What was it that required him to be detained for 2hrs (if not surname) while others walked out? 2hrs time is nothing for us but what about a celebrity for whom time is money? It was absolutely unnecessary. What was the need for Indian embassy to intervene? And what if it hadn’t?

Posted by Gaurav | Report as abusive

shahrukh is our hero and america come up as a villian in 2nd half. hey guys its a wake up call for all of u, plss dnt look into the religion aspect the roots r very very deep, its not about “khan”. its all abot showing superioriety, arrogance, proud by humilating at the sake of fake terrorism which they are creating in the whole world. its nothing but a controvercy created by americans to harrass everyone and anyone they feel like….
Pls stop pretending americans. we honour u wenevr u r our guest, dnt act smart otherwise things wod b different tomorrow… trust we indians…

Posted by RAVI | Report as abusive

I was in USA last month, my second visit in recent years and used six different airports this time. I started from Manchester in UK. Even in Manchester it took the airline staff at least five times compared to others to determine I am who I am and not presumably a security threat. I protested and the staff at least had the grace to appear embarrassed. In all airports in USA, however, my search took at least twice or may be three times longer than the caucasian co-passengers. I became so curious once in the Indianapolis airport (I had time) that in thirty minutes I counted one black lady and all south asians (or at least appearing so) went through a special search. Add to this a rudeness amongst CBP staff that I have not seen anywhere else in four different continents. I have wondered in the past how disempowering CBP training must be that makes people lose their normal politeness to a fellow human being.

My point is, I suspect, almost all men of south asian origin have probably faced this sometime in USA. SRK incident, unfortunately is probably an expression of this impotent and fruitless anger. It may be an overreaction but it’s probably the only legitimate protest at this regular humiliation.

Posted by Ayan | Report as abusive

SRK is a world icon for god’s sake.Newsweek once reported him as the most viewed star , he was much above the hollywood’s own tom cruise. USA security ppl shud not hav done this with him.its a shame for both the nations .feeling really sorry for the suffering of the biggest movie star in the world.even if he doesnt want an apology the US shud giv him a big one.

Posted by Souptik | Report as abusive

Everything is not as it seems… Yes there is some sort of racisim here…. There is difference in a way a Gora gets treated and a Non Gora gets treated…. Try crossing the Candian American border The treatment is definetly different….

Posted by SunSkit | Report as abusive

Are people really so dumb? Security procedures are there for everyone’s safety and if you are in the same plane you would certainly prefer to go through all necessary checks rather than have yourself blown up in the sky. Moreover, the reason for detention was Mr SRK’s baggage was unaccompanied in another plane and they had to make sure that plane landed safely before letting him go. There is no racism and there is no other ism as many like to believe. Such a waste of time!

Posted by Uday | Report as abusive

see A.P.J. Abdul Kalam too had the same behavior from US people but the way he behaved is Like a great man of india. but SRK’s Action confirmed that he’s an great actor even befor public. Funny Guy.


Guided and egged on by a half-witted and ill-informed media, it hasn’t taken Indians anytime to go around screaming that the sky is falling. The New Ark Immigration officials have clarified that Khan’s luggage had not arrived and he was made to wait till it arrived, as per procedure. Khan has not denied this.

Sensing an opportunity for free publicity,however, Khan jumped on the discrimination band wagon immediately. After all, he’s got a new release bearing his name coming up and he hasn’t missed any occasion since the incident to point out that he was detained because his name is Khan!

Posted by Kochu Thampy | Report as abusive

It is stupidity to create fuss over security check -up just bcoz he is an actor, many big and famous have gone through it,and the comman man goes very often,but it is bcoz of this attitude we have security breaches in INDIA and things like swine flu coming in.Somethings should be left to follow their own course.

Posted by Puja | Report as abusive

Yes, certainly it is an over reaction. Be a Roman in Rome. We should not be impolite to any of our guests who visit India whether American or other. Let our officials be polite but very professional in dealing with security aspects that is where we should learn from others.

Posted by U S Manyam | Report as abusive

in a country where we talk so much about equality….. that is embeded in our constitution like one of the guiding lines. we should come to face it before proclaiming it. had the same thing happened to a common man…it would have definitely not hit the headlines……. not everyone is responsible for terrorism …but when u stand at a place of security check……u are no different than a common man n u will have to comply by it to respect the integrity of the established systems….. i dont think it is such a big deal

Posted by Prachi | Report as abusive

why we indian have such a low self esteem.that everybody kicks us and we say nothing.weshould salut shahrukh at least he has shown his unhappiness.we should also frisk american and come out of colonial servile mentality


i definitely think so that people overreacted on srk’s detention…..law is made for everyone all are equal on the eyes of law.


We all know that US has very good database, would not be surprised to know if they have all the data available at India’s passport office too. In any case US would definately have data regarding all the visitors who visited and even take a figer print.

It looks rediculos on US security agencies to stop any person who had been a frequent visitor to US and the passport show all the entry stamps with dates etc.

More over most of the visitor while taking visa would have already given the details of their profession and other details without which Visa would not be issued.

Do you think they cannot verify the details available ? As you know airline do a passenger profiling even before they board the fight.

So where does the question aries about mistaken identity? I do feel the US security agencies made a mistake, might be purposefully.

And the people reaction is justified to get the attention.

Unless we complain no one would take notice.

Posted by Rajeev | Report as abusive

Actually there is no need to make such a loud noise. It is quite normal and routine security practice.

Posted by Gunashakar | Report as abusive

to me, it is just a publicity stunt before the lanch of ‘My Name is Khan’ movie,, and it cannot be better than this. Just damn lame old politics of publicity!

Posted by Little Indian | Report as abusive

We indians have got and inherited an habit for allowing others to humiliate us and then say its part of procedures. Is it also a part of security procedure that some Indians will be detained and grilled for 4 hours? if so why Indian agencies also do not “follow” the west and grill every american coming to India?

Posted by rahul | Report as abusive

I feel it’s a publicity tactic by SRK to support it’s forthcoming flick My Name is Khan….I feel SRK is following Rakhi Sawant tactics these days….

Posted by Rahul Malhotra | Report as abusive

why is this a great debate ? mark it great crappy debate.

Posted by vivek | Report as abusive

Q. What did the US authorities tell Shahrukh Khan after he was detained at Newark airport?

A. Yes, we Khan.

Posted by Bottles | Report as abusive

America is not surrounded by a volatile neighbourhood. India is. Hence, to say, security measures have been successful in USA and not in India is not looking at things in proper perspective.

For most Americans and many others, Muslims are looked upon suspiciously. For Muslims, Americans are not to be trusted. This is tit for tat. The crusades.

It should not be forgotten that the Osama bin Laden and his ilk are a creation of the USA. Everything stems from it.

As and Indian, I feel troubled that a US immigration man can abuse me. USA likes to believe it is a civilized nation. Some say in Middle east, travel is very restrictive. But one knows before hand that it is so. USA is the champion of liberty. Should set a better example.

Let’s not forget if Red Indians had an immigration policy in place, American story might have been different.

Also, just 150 years ago or about, large chunks of land were grabbed from Mexico – now called california and around. Almost 40% of today’s America.

The history of white man, as the noted author Joseph Conrad has said, has been of stealing, looting and grabbing from chinky eyes, dark skin, yellow skin etc.

Sharukh episode just highlights the travails. In a strange way, they chose the right person. US is the eventual loser. The damage done to US reputation is phenomnal, atleast in India.

In the era of globalisation, this will eventually count. Let us not forget, India is a strong lender to the US. Cheap credit flows from Indian savings as well.

With Kalam episode, Sharukh episode, questions are being asked seriously. People are now wary of USA. Business compulsions still make them do the trade talk. But as US economy limps, instead of earning the world’s goodwill, it is doing the opposite.

Non americans who have a job in USA, say it is a routine and we should accept it.

I am not sure of today but till a very recent past, western passengers in an airline crash used to get a higher insurance than the non-whites – presumably, white man’s life is more expensive.

Posted by delhidjinn | Report as abusive

Un-necessary fuss created by media


Shah Rukh is a huge star in India and around the world, but that’s not the important matter. What counts is that we Americans have been so mentally brainwashed to suspect anyone who looks or sounds like “the other”, that we have descended to this. There are lots of folks out there in the world and most are not terrorists. BTW, I was on the “no fly list” too a couple of years ago, possibly because I have a funny name. It was one of the biggest hassles of my life and does not create good will for the US, nor safety either. Seriously, how many plots has all this shoe checking, no liquid carrying, funny-name detaining activity thwarted? I say they should just employ lots of sniffer dogs, sophisticated electronic detection scanning equipment on all luggage, and have plenty of air marshalls on board. Let us leave our shoes on, our gift bottles of wine in the carry aboard, and our foreign sounding names off the suspect list.

Posted by Entera | Report as abusive

this are the people who have not job but to do any thing
for the sake of some fanatics. If you take a look at
the pircture in this article it is evident that it has
some sort of relegious mix too. When will people of india learn to distingush good and evil.



Posted by DevD | Report as abusive

America is only doing what they do.

Indians are definitely over reacting. Everytime something bad happens they burn efergies (i know i dont know how to spell it before someone comments on it) but thats not just an Indian thing it happens all over Asia.

You could say though there response is ok considering when anything happens to Jewish people they are automatically classed as “Anti-Semetic”.

Posted by James | Report as abusive

i wouldnt mind srk getting questioned for 15min but 2 houres is a bit too long. all u need is a latop and all u need to write is his name on google and ull know who he is. stupid idiots questioned an interntional hero,star and almost a king like figure in asia for 2 hours just becoz they didnt like his name. next obama goes to india they better check him aswell.

Posted by a muslim | Report as abusive

Routine check – I’m an indian living in America and honestly, I’ve travelled through the faster lane many times while other “white” people have been detained in the slower line.

It’s a procedure – whether it is ineffective is definitely debatable but racist – def not. Besides, as a Muslim (now atheist) it shames me to say that, to a certain extent, racial profiling is justified IMO given that 90% of terrorists are unfortunately Muslim.


some of u r saying that srk is not bigger than hollywood stars well sorry to prove u wrong but 6.5billion people know srk world wide. thats 2billion ahead of any hollywood star so stfu and get ur facts right.

Posted by SRK | Report as abusive

That’s terrible, when will we put a stop to this nonsense. Yes, I understand that we need to protect our country, but if he says he’s a STAR, then let him go by w/o any hassles. What will he think of we as Americans?


shame on your part Mr. Shahrukh khan .You used india\’s name to promote your movie \”My Name is Khan \” . Do you think we are fool and we can\’t understand, that nothing has happened there. It was just a promotion but you used our countries name and our identity to promote your bloody film .
Shame on You. I\’ll literally boycott You
shame on You

Posted by SAHIL | Report as abusive

India can learn a few things on security especially after the terror attacks last year. SRK and no other bollywood actor is above any law in any other foreign country..just cuz he gets VIP in India doesnt mean this applies to the whole world. The US actually has laws which they implement and enforce. The people in India need to get over it and need to stop being so dramatic and emotional. If he didnt like his treatment or if the rest of you didnt then dont come to the US. SRK also will not get an apology..the US has nothing to apologize for…the customs officers were doing their jobs. Hopefully from this experience SRK’s ego can slightly come down but I doubt it will.

Posted by Exoticbeauty | Report as abusive

Why do indians like US money? All over the world people dislike US but they all want american currency…even SRK. And of course he coming back to the US…for the MONEY!!!! Get over it India and get over it SRK…my praise to the US customs agents..keep up the good work…and SRK you are not getting your apology even bribing the US President wont get you an apology to make your ego feel better.

Posted by Indian in Canada | Report as abusive

I am a Muslim and travel several times out of Newark each year. Security has been strict at Newark post 911 and SRK has blown this issue out of proportions. I think SRK may have thrown star tantrums at the immigration officials for a delay but they give a damn even though he maybe a super star in some part of the world. Don’t be a cry baby – SRK!

Posted by Inspector Fox | Report as abusive

This was a cheap publicity stunt for his upcoming movie….Shahrukh Khan needs to be flogged in public to be honest.

With luck running out (all of his recent movies have been flops or average) and his list of tinsel town foes (Big B, Aamir, Salman, Akshay….and many more) increasing by the day, I am not at all surprised that Shahrukh has to resort to these tricks to attract public attention.

Shame on you Shahrukh….you have disgraced the entire nation by your despicable acts.

I will surely not be watching your movies for a long time to come now….and there are scores of people who share my views!!

Posted by Mystic Man | Report as abusive

well i think any nations security stands the priority but they should also consider the vip’s and their repo , specially after what i came to know about mr.apj abdul kalam i was shocked.. come on man … now this was the matter srk is just a celebrity but sir apj abdul kalam is really honorable..


If he has been questioned this time, he would have been questioned earlier also,he made it public because he wanted some publicity mileage for his new movie out of it,Can the US Immigration authorities please give us the details if he questioned earlier too?

Posted by RR | Report as abusive


Posted by Ashok | Report as abusive


Posted by ASHOK | Report as abusive

Funny side of this story

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7VvMX9nng 4Y

Posted by Indian | Report as abusive

it’s cheap publicity stunt by the actor. There is no doubt in that immigration officers were doing their job. Especially since majority of terroist in the world has name khan or omar or abdullah, no one can blame the US officials for doing their duty India US relationship shouldn’t be affected because of this.

Posted by Roy Rogers | Report as abusive

This is nothing but a cheap publicity. These bollywood Stars do have close relationship with people like Dawood Ibrahim, who is the mastermind behind many terrorist activities in India. There is no wonder if these bollywood stars are found to be working for them. We should apreciate US security agencies for the strict standards they maintain. One do not need any explanation on why there was no jihadi activities in USA after 9/11

Posted by Roopesh | Report as abusive

Cheap publicity. Who cares if you are a superstar in India. In th eyes of Newark Airport security, nobody is a superstar. If you do not like US hassling you then do not come to the US. I care lessa aboutyour moviesw as I dont know you anyway. You can be a star in that part of the world but here in the USA you are NOBODY !!! Look at you fans rallying behind you. They are all stupid people !!!

Posted by pok pok | Report as abusive

Yes indians overreacted..
They should stop treating these stars politicians like VIPs. I am very happy that Americans take security concern very seriously and no discrimination between common man and so called stars..
Kudos to american security
keep up d gud work :)

Posted by rahul | Report as abusive

They should stop treating these stars politicians like VIPs.


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