Editor of Assamese daily dropped from PM tour after US visa delay

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Guwahati, Sep 22 (UNI) The Chief Editor of a leading Assamese daily could not accompany Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the US as the American Embassy delayed the issuance of his visa.

Chief Editor of ''Asomiya Pratidin'' Haidar Husain, a respected journalist for over two decades, could not accompany the Prime Minister, despite being invited by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), because of the delay in processing his visa application.

''No specific reason was given for the delay in processing my visa application. For the first time I felt that I am from a minority community. Never before in my life, I felt so much humiliation. I have been working for peace and communal harmony since my student days. I really feel dejected especially because the Prime Minister himself represents my state in the Rajya Sabha,'' he said.

''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.

Mr Hussain had arrived at New Delhi on September 16 and appeared for the visa interview the next day. He returned to Guwahati yesterday when Joint Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs Vishnu Prakash, who is also spokesperson of the MEA, informed him that the Embassy would take ''a few weeks'' to clear his US visa.

Mr Hussain, however, does not blame the US Embassy so much as the Ministry of External Affairs and has also written to the Prime Minister.

''I have been editor of Asomiya Pratidin for a decade now. I am well respected in the Northeast by leaders of all religions and political parties. I have never felt like a minority, but today, because of the humiliation I was put through as our government did nothing, I feel like a minority. I came back to Guwahati on Sunday morning after the MEA told me they could not help me despite the fact that they were the ones who invited me in the first place,'' Mr Hussain said.

The incident has not gone down well with the media fraternity here.

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