Airport search angers Indian diplomat

Dec. 9, 2010 at 8:53 AM
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JACKSON, Miss., Dec. 9 (UPI) -- The Transportation Security Administration's patdown of India's ambassador to the United States at a Mississippi airport has ruffled feathers, officials said.

Ambassador Meera Shankar was so upset by a physical patdown at Jackson-Evers International Airport that she said she won't return to the United States, The (Jackson, Miss.) Clarion-Ledger reported.

"The way they pat them down -- it was so humiliating," said Tan Tsai, a research associate at Mississippi State University's International Security Studies Center who witnessed the screening. "Anybody who passed by could see it."

Shankar was in Jackson last week as a guest of the Janos Radvanyi Chair in International Security Studies at MSU. She also met with Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant and representatives from the Mississippi Development Authority.

Shankar presented her diplomatic papers to TSA officers and was the only person in a group of about 30 to undergo the enhanced security check, the newspaper said.

Witnesses said Shankar was chosen for the patdown because she was wearing a sari, a traditional Indian robe that is draped across the body. The TSA has guidelines that allow additional screenings when passengers are wearing "bulky" clothing.

"She is a very strong woman, but you could see in her face that she was humiliated," Tsai said. "The Indian culture is very modest."

Mississippi officials said they would send Shankar a letter of apology, and inform her the search was not initiated by them, but by the federal government.

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