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PM's trip: Editor alleges religious bias over visa denial

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September 22, 2008 11:53 IST

An editor of a leading Assamese daily could not accompany Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the US as the American Embassy in Delhi delayed processing of his visa.

The delay by the embassy in granting a visa to Haidar Hussain, editor of Asomiya Pratidin, led to his being dropped from the prime minister's entourage.

"I was invited by the Ministry of External Affairs to be part of the media team accompanying the prime minister. It is a big humiliation for me. The MEA failed to take necessary action when the embassy told them that it will take a few weeks to clear my visa application. It shows how helpless our government is before the US," he said.

Hussain was the lone representative from the north-east media in the entire 35-member media delegation accompanying Dr Singh for his 10-day visit to the US and France beginning Monday. Another Muslim correspondent had opted out because of Ramzan.

Hussain had arrived in Delhi on September 16 and appeared for the visa interview the next day. He returned to Guwahati on Sunday when Joint Secretary of the MEA Vishnu Prakash, who is also its spokesperson, informed him that the embassy would take "a few weeks" to clear his US visa.

"For the first time I felt that I am a Muslim. Never before in my life, I felt so much humiliation. You come to Assam, they will tell you about me. I have been working for peace and communal harmony since my student days. I really feel sorry specially because the prime minister himself represents my state in Rajya Sabha," he told PTI over phone from Guwahati.

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