Trinidad regrets airport incident involving Indian envoy

Port of Spain, May 8 (IANS) Indian High Commissioner to Trinidad & Tobago Malay Mishra has said he would prefer to put behind him an “incident” at the Piarco International Airport here last week when an immigration officer misbehaved with him, leading to the country/’s foreign minister expressing regret and promising corrective action.

“You are inflaming a minor diplomatic incident to a major one. I would like to let it go at this time,” the Trinidad & Tobago Guardian quoted him as saying. “This is the first time this has happened to me. I have been here four years in the country.”

The newspaper had contacted him for an update as The Sunday Guardian reported the incident after Mishra wrote to the paper to complain about it. The incident took place May 3 when Mishra was returning from a trip to Grenada.

According to the report, none of the passengers on board the flight were given immigration forms to fill up. On landing at Piarco airport, he went to the diplomatic queue for clearance and obtained a form. He was directed to a queue but found a No-Entry barricade there.

When he came back, an immigration officer shouted at him and told him to fill up the form. When Mishra said that he was representing a sovereign country, the officer told him that he was “misrepresenting” his country.

The envoy told the newspaper that he had informed Trinidad & Tobago’s foreign ministry about the incident “as the matter being of a diplomatic nature, it was incumbent upon the high commission to do so”.

Though Mishra said that he was yet to hear from the ministry, the report quoted Lisa Daniel Charles, the ministry’s communications head, as saying in a release that Foreign Minister Winston Dookeran has expressed serious concern and regret over the incident and that corrective action was being taken to prevent any recurrence.

Mentioning that he was carrying a diplomatic passport at the time of the incident, Mishra said: “In this case, there is a separate lane for diplomats and since not many people are usually in it, you pass through quickly. That’s the case at Piarco Airport, in India and in airports all over the world.”

However, he said, he was not exempt from filling up the form and he too had to fill it up like any other passenger.

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