Saturday, July 17, 2004

Letters to the Editor - The Hindu - July 17, 2004 - The US need not apologize to George Fernandes.

So our George Fernandes, on a trip to Washington DC, as the Defense Minister of India was searched just similar to any of us. A big ruckus ensued when this was made public with every Tom, Dick, and Harry demanding an apology from the US Government. First of all, it was an exaggeration that Mr. Fernandes was ever strip-searched. He was merely asked to take his jacket off. Moreover, if there would have been a diplomatic protocol violation, the Foreign Ministry could have taken up the issue within the official channels of the US State Department. Even the Ambassador of India to the United States, who was at that time with Mr. Fernandes did not see any violation of protocol when the latter was searched at the airport in Washington. Moreover, when any citizen flies into another country, he has to subject himself to the laws and statutes of the host country, because he had been granted a visa as a privilege, not as a right. When every air-traveler within the US is forced to undergo this security-check ordeal, it would be childish to demand that our own Mr. Fernandes be treated differently. After all the United States is not a babudom for our politicians to be treated any different than ordinary people.

Published in The Hindu, National Edition, dated July 17, 2004.

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Sir, — The brouhaha over the Fernandes issue is unwarranted. It is naïve to assume that only suspects are strip-searched at U.S. airports. Post-9/11, airport security has been beefed up much to the chagrin of all in the U.S.

Rex S. Arul,

Georgia, U.S.

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