Texas: The US has done it again - but this time, its not the sari but the turban that has raised eyebrows. India's envoy to the UN Hardeep Puri refused to have his turban patted down at the airport in Austin, Texas. The incident happened on November 13 when Puri was returning to New York after delivering a lecture at the University of Texas.
A TSA agent asked Puri for permission to pat down his turban. Puri refused saying that would violate TSA's own guidelines. Puri though did offer to touch his turban himself and undergo a check to detect explosives. After thirty minutes of checking its rules, the TSA apologized to the Indian envoy and Puri was allowed to go. Puri later told CNN-IBN that he wasn't insulted or humiliated and that the matter was over.
But India took up Puri's case along with Meera Shankar's complaint last week. It wants diplomatic protocol to be followed for its envoys, to ensure they are spared unecessary and intrusive advance security screening. The US has promised to review its rules, SM Krishna said today, and India is waiting for action.
But its not just Indo-US ties that have been tied up in knots over the turban. India and France also have a turban issue to resolve. The PM has for two years been requesting President Sarkozy to ensure Sikhs don't have to remove their turban when being photographed for national ID documents. So far, Paris is unmoved.
Here in India, the foreign office is aware the turban is a politically sensitive issue as well. It's keeping its fingers crossed that there won't be anymore pat-downs or put-downs!