Forget WikiLeaks, according to India’s Foreign Minister the greatest threat to Indo-U.S. relations are the hands of airport security guards on New Delhi’s diplomatic elite.
On Dec 4, Indian Ambassador to the U.S. Meera Shankar was pulled from the interminable airport security queue at Jackson-Evers International Airport in Mississippi and subjected to a full body pat-down by security officials, despite reportedly stressing her diplomatic credentials.
India’s three biggest English newspapers gave the story front-page treatment on Friday, jostling for column inches alongside the continued investigations into a $39 billion telecoms scam and India’s crucial role in the ongoing climate change talks in Cancun.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s view, that the incident was “appropriate under the circumstances“, fuelled a sense of injustice in New Delhi.
“This is unacceptable to India and we are going to take it up with the U.S. government and I hope things will be resolved so that such unpleasant incidents do not recur,” S.M. Krishna, India’s Foreign Minister, was reported as saying in response.
Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, presumingly taking a break from such pressing issues as thawing talks with nuclear-armed neighbour Pakistan and organising the upcoming visit of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, told reporters on Friday that India was awaiting a report from Washington before taking up the matter with American authorities.