Even as there were sharp reactions in India to the detention of Shah Rukh Khan for two hours at the Newark airport on Saturday, U.S. envoy Timothy J. Roemer said the actor “is a very welcome guest in the United States.”

“We are trying to ascertain the facts of the case to understand what took place,” he said soon after India took up the matter with the U.S. Embassy here.

“A global icon”

Mr. Roemer regarded the Bollywood actor as a global icon. He heaped praises on Mr. Khan, saying many Americans loved his movies.

Earlier, the External Affairs Ministry took up the matter with the U.S. Embassy.

Embassy ascertaining circumstances

Its spokesman said the U.S. Embassy was ascertaining the circumstances which led to the detention of Mr. Khan and that the Consul-General of India in New York was in touch with the actor.

Reacting sharply, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said such incidents recurred with disconcerting frequency and called for returning the compliments.

Stating that she too had been frisked, Ms. Soni underscored the need to “pay back in the same coin” as the number of such instances was on the rise and frisking was beyond permissible limits.

Uncalled for: BJP

BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad said the detention was uncalled for.

Stressing that Mr. Khan had received several international awards and must have visited the U.S. more than 50 occasions, he said the U.S. needed to understand to respect icons of other countries also.

“A disgrace”

Mr. Khan’s colleagues expressed shock and called the incident a “disgrace.”

Directors Karan Johar and Mahesh Bhatt, actors Raza Murad and Juhi Chawla and choreographer-director Farah Khan expressed their dismay.

Mr. Bhatt said he was shocked that such a global icon had been subjected to “something like this.”

Bollywood was furious that a number of stars suffered similar treatment at the hands of the U.S. immigration, be it Malayalam superstar Mammootty or Irrfan Khan or Kabir Khan.

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