The US Homeland Security has apologised to Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel [ Images ] who was questioned by the immigration authorities in Chicago as his name and date of birth happened to match with that of a person on America's watch-list.
Patel, who was in Chicago on a private visit and flew to Montreal for attending an official engagement, was stopped and quizzed at the O'Hare airport. The Minister was asked why he was visiting the US and whether he had stayed in the country earlier. US Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, later apologised to Patel over the issue. She also gave an assurance that the US will do whatever required to make necessary amends to prevent any such incidents in the future, Civil Aviation Ministry officials said.
Patel has earlier sought to downplay the episode and said nothing serious had happened. "I am in Montreal and nothing serious has happened... there is a person with similar name and birth date. That's why they just double checked," he said. Patel was questioned by the immigration officials after his name matched with that of another Praful Patel, who is reportedly on US' watch list.
Brian Bell, the Public Affairs Liaison for Customs and Border Protection at O'Hare International Airport told PTI: "There are 17,000 passengers per day through the O'Hare Airport and it is not uncommon to deal with people whose names are on the US Watch List. Even if If the person is on the US Watch List, he is let off if he is not a person of interest,"he said. "We deal with such people quickly and efficiently and we release people who do not match," Bell added.