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India envoy gets pat-down in Mississippi

Thu., Dec. 9, 2010

JACKSON, Miss. – India’s sari-clad ambassador was pulled from an airport security line and patted down by a TSA agent in Mississippi after attending a conference, an act one state agency official called “unfortunate.”

The hands-on search last week also embarrassed the university officials who invited Meera Shankar, India’s ambassador to the U.S., to give a speech for an international studies program.

“It was a wonderful program, maybe the best we’ve had, (but) this stupid incident ruined the whole thing. She said, ‘I will never come back here,’ ” said Janos Radvanyi, chair of Mississippi State University’s international studies department.

But a Transportation Security Administration spokesman said diplomats are not exempt and that Shankar “was screened in accordance with TSA’s security policies and procedures.”

A Jackson police officer escorted Shankar to Jackson-Evers International Airport on Saturday for a flight to Baltimore, Radvanyi said.

The officer informed airport police that Shankar was an ambassador, but she was later pulled from a security line and patted down by a female TSA agent, Randvanyi said.

The Clarion-Ledger newspaper of Jackson quoted witnesses as saying Shankar was told she was singled out because of her dress. She had on a sari, which drapes across the body and is worn by many Indians.


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