Saturday, February 18, 2006

Denial of US visa: an update

Just a quick update to yesterday's post on the denial of the US visa to Indian scientists.

After quite a few Indian news outlets picked up this story about the stupid behaviour at the US Consulate (to my knowledge, all of it seems to be concentrated in its Chennai oiffice), the US Embassy authorities have responded.


On Friday, an embarrassed US Embassy rushed to clear the air on accusations of rude behaviour shown to the scientists.

"We express deep regret for the inconvenience caused. It was routine requirement for information and the processing of their passports in now on," said David Kennedy, spokesperson, US Embassy.

The Indian Express:

Mark Frie, Chief of the Consular Section at the US Consulate in Chennai, called Mehta urging him to apply again. Mehta said he had turned down the offer and told the US official: “One humiliation is enough.”

Expressing regret over the distress caused to Mehta, the Embassy statement said: “We are committed to treating each applicant with dignity and respect.”

The Telegraph:

An embassy official said the US has respect for the scientists of India and other countries and no one was trying to discourage visits by members of the Indian academic and scientific community.

Mehta, however, is not impressed. “I was clearly told that visa has not been granted,” he said from Bangalore, where the IISc is located.

The scientist was furious at the behaviour of consulate officials. He felt humiliated when the interviewer asked him to convince him that his work was not related to chemical warfare.

“I could not answer the absurd question. Then I was told that I have not been honest. How can anyone say this to a scientist? It was not a personal humiliation,” he said.

Mehta has decided not to reapply even as an official from the US consulate today requested him to do so.

There is more at Outlook, and