Monday, September 21, 2009

Lost Chance of International Honour

Loses chance to receive UN honour, thanks to his name

Special Correspondent

Immigration officials at Delhi ‘botch’ up Shaik Khasim Shareef’s trip to Mexico to receive the award

GUNTUR: His name kept him away from an international honour -- the only Indian youth entry to win an award at the United Nations Millennium Goals from among 600 participants, thanks to the immigration officials who detained him in New Delhi.

Narsaraopet-based Friends To Support Organisation was chosen by the United Nations for an international honour -- World Youth Summit Award Runner-up in ‘Fight Hunger, Poverty and Disease’ category to receive the award at Monterry in Mexico between September 2 and 5.

On receiving communication from the hosts, founder of the organisation Shaik Khasim Shareef, working as web designer in Hyderabad, got the Mexican visa and boarded an Air India flight at Hyderabad for Mexico via New Delhi after proper immigration check at 8.10 p.m. on August 31.

A change of flight was needed at New Delhi as direct flights were not available to Mexico.

At New Delhi, he was cleared at the Immigration check and luggage put on board the flight scheduled to leave for Mexico via Chicago at 12.05 a.m. on September 1.

But just before boarding the plane some officials stopped him for a check allegedly going by his name.

After checking his papers, he was denied entry into the plane saying he needed a transit visa of the U.S. as the plane touched Chicago airport though he would continue in the same aircraft.

This came as a surprise to him as the hosts had clearly communicated to him that no transit visa was needed.

He had even enquired at the Mexican Consulate at New Delhi while getting his visa to confirm that he did not need a U.S. transit visa.

To petition President

“The behaviour of the airline staff towards me was only due to my name. They did not allow me to go into airport and put me on a Hyderabad flight only after 24 hours of waiting in the lounge without my passport,” Mr. Shareef told The Hindu.

“I propose to represent this matter to the President of India, Ministry of Civil Aviation and the top officials of the airlines,” he added.


Mr. Shareef said he was detained despite his plea to verify his identity from employers/host organisers and about the Friends To Support Organisation running website for providing contact information of voluntary blood donors on the Internet.

He was escorted to the luggage area of the aircraft by four gun-toting security officials to identify his luggage which was deplaned.

The flight got delayed by one hour and left for Chicago without Mr. Shareef.

When contacted the organisers apologised for the incident, but could not do anything.

A chance to let genuine voice be heard by people from all over the world on voluntary blood donation awareness using Internet, was lost.