Goverdhan Mehta, renowned Indian professor of organic chemistry was denied a visa by the US immigration. Mehta was intending to attend a scientific conference in Florida, but was denied permission by the embassy in New Delhi.
US officials say that the application was merely delayed and not denied, and the Paris-based International Council for Science (ICSU), is expressing “grave concern” over their more stringent policies since September 11.
ICSU deputy executive director Carthage Smith said, “Professor Mehta is a very well-known scientist, but there are many lesser known scientists to whom this is happening. The bigger issue is important.”
Professor Mehta was subjected to “hostile treatment” at the embassy, and asked to prove that his work could not be used for chemical weapons. When asked what his doctoral thesis was about, he could not remember details. Professor Mehta said, “I did my PhD 40 years ago. I told them I did not remember the topic. Science has progressed and changed completely since then.”
ICSU, which promotes free exchange of world science said: “It clearly illustrates that, despite some progress, all is far from well with regards to the visa policies and associated practices for scientists wishing to enter the USA.”
A spokesman for the US consulate said: “He was asked for additional information and the application can be processed, it can be continued.”