//Indian Nuclear Scientist, Mehta cancels travel plans to US

Indian Nuclear Scientist, Mehta cancels travel plans to US

Bangalore,PTI:, Feb 25, 2006

Top Indian scientist Govardhan Mehta, who had been reportedly intially "denied" but later granted an US visa on Saturday said he has cancelled plans to visit that country to deliver a lecture at a function organised by the University of Florida.

"I had cancelled my travel plans the very next day after being denied a visa and had informed the University of the same," Mehta, a former Director of the Bangalore-based prestigeous Indian Institute of Science, said.

Reacting to the US government’s decision to grant him a visa, he said, "I had been wronged. It is good that they have corrected the wrong done to me." "There is nothing to be happy or sad. On the whole, it was not a good experience for me", Mehta, who was scheduled to fly to the US on Friday night, said.

"I appreciate the apology extended by the US ambassador to India on the issue but, as far as I am concerned, I think it is only the controversy that has been put to rest not the issue." "The issue is a generic one and relates to the free interaction of scientists and their participation in various international activities without being subject to any such restriction or humiliation. It is not only an issue concerned with scientists in India but all over the world", he said.

"The issue was not a personal one," Mehta reiterated. Quoting a report from the "Washington Post", Mehta said the National Academy of Science was handling and helping nearly 3000 scientists on the visa issue. "This shows that the issue is a world wide one", he said.

On the US stand that he had not been denied a visa, he said, "I do not share that perception. I have a piece of paper that clearly states that they were unable to grant me a visa." "I had been asked to fill up a whole lot of questionnaire, which I refused to fill. I was not going to US to seek some employment. It was for an interaction with the scientific community," Mehta said.

"However, I am grateful to the scientific community world wide for their support, especially to the National Academy of Science", he said.

On whether he had completely struck off the US from his travel list forever, he laughed, "No, I have plenty of friends and my colleagues from the scientific community there. If invited I will go, but provided they give me a visa at that time and….provided they do not ask me to fill that questionnaire again." Asked whether the visa was issued in view of the upcoming visit of US President Bush to India, he refused to comment saying. "I am an academician and I do not want comment on politics."