'Don't feel like stepping on American soil any more'


Driving straight to the venue of a function at the luxury Trump Taj Mahal hotel in Atlantic City in tattered jeans, a white T-shirt, a brownish coat and a muffler since his baggage was yet to arrive, Khan told the audience that "I was treated shabbily just because I happened to have Khan as my last name."

Profusely apologising to his fans for arriving two hours late at the casino city of New Jersey for yesterday's function, 'King' Khan stunned the large number of Indian-Americans when he told them that he does not feel like stepping on the American soil any more, but it is the love and affection of millions of his fans in the US which would bring him to this country again and again.

Sharing his "ordeal" which he underwent as he landed at the Newark International Liberty Airport on a British Airways flight, with his fans, the 43-year-old actor said he was grilled by immigration officials.

"It was very unprofessional of the airport security staff of not allowing me to use my cell phone to contact my local organisers," he told the audience, who were literally taken aback by what they heard from their superstar.

A visibly shattered Khan said that "I have travelled throughout the world for my shooting and also as brand ambassador for all major products but I have never been treated like this before."

"At times I do not feel like stepping on American soil any more but I have millions of fans here who would want to see me so I will keep coming," 'King' Khan told his fans.

Later in Chicago, where he had gone to take part in the South Asian Carnival on the occasion of India's Independence Day, Khan said that "I think it is a procedure that needs to be followed. But it is an unfortunate procedure."

Asked whether he would seek an apology for the incident, the actor replied in the negative.

Soon after the incident which sparked angry reactions back home, the actor had yesterday said he was detained and questioned at Newark airport by US immigration officials after his name matched with some of those on a common checklist. He was let off at the intervention of Indian Consulate officials.

Khan had termed the incident as "uncalled for", saying that "I did feel bad. I felt angry. I am glad my family wasn't there. God knows what they would have done to them."

"I was really hassled at the American Airport because of my name being Khan," the actor, who figured in the American Newsweek magazine's list of 50 most powerful people, had said.

Meanwhile, US immigration authorities in New York denied that Khan was detained and questioned for two hours at the Newark airport or that the actor was singled out because of his name or Asian identity.

The allegations "happen to be incorrect," US Customs and Border Protection spokesman Elmer Camacho said, adding Khan was inspected because his baggage had not arrived.

Part of the inspection process is to examine the baggage. However his bags were not available due to the airline not loading them on the flight he arrived on, the spokesman said. That is why his inspection took longer, the airline could not provide his bags for inspection.

"His documents and papers were checked, which were found to be in correct order," Camacho said.

After a "normal" check at the airport, Khan was taken to a different room where he was waiting for his turn since many other people were already there. "The entire process ended in a little over one hour," the spokesman said.

The procedure, he said, was handled in a "professional manner" and there was no evidence of Khan being pointed out because of his name or Asian identity.

To a question on Khan's contention that he was asked by immigration officials about his work in the US, the spokesman said "it's our policy not to discuss all specific (details) of any traveller". However, when any traveller enters the US, he or she is subjected to inspection, he added.

However, Khan, after narrating his "ordeal" to his fans in Atlantic City, was soon at his best forgetting his worries. It was the same old 'King' Khan who had made the Indian community dance to his songs and imitate him all these year.

Khan delivered his usual well-known dialogues, danced on popular songs and answered questions from the curious cheering crowd for the next one hour at the event.

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