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   June 28, 2002 | 2130 IST


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Indian fans denied entry to Seoul

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A biscuit company has lodged a complaint with the South Korean embassy in New Delhi on the denial of entry to Seoul and 'ill-treatment' meted out to members of a team sent by it to watch a World Cup soccer match.

Alleging that it appeared that Indians were not welcome in South Korea, the Kolkata-based company demanded a thorough probe into the whole episode.

"We would request you to arrange for a proper inquiry and inform us on the action you propose to take to make amends for our losses and sufferings of the persons sent on the tour," the complaint, by Anmol Biscuits Pvt Ltd director Bimal Chowdhury, to the Korean ambassador said.

The 10-member team, including nine winners of a sales promotion scheme launched by the company, was taken to Seoul on June 20 to watch the quarter-final encounter between Germany and the United States at Ulsan the next day.

However, the team, led by the company's marketing manager, Mrinal Sen, was denied entry by immigration officials at Seoul airport for 'no apparent reason', the letter alleged.

"The most disturbing aspect was the ill-treatment meted out to the members. They were put in a lock up, denied communication with home or the Indian embassy," the letter, copies of which have been sent to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, FIFA president Sepp Blatter and the External Affairs ministry, said.

The letter alleged that the team members were also denied food and drinking water at Seoul airport.

"A few of them (even) got beaten up by the immigration officials," it said.

Chowdhury said the team was finally deported to Bangkok 'like prisoners', despite possessing valid visas, issued by the Korean consulate in Kolkata, genuine match tickets, given by the FIFA, and also the requisite foreign exchange.

"As it appears, Indians are not welcome guests in your country, and if that be, why, at first instance, did your consulate issue a visa. We could have arranged a trip to Japan instead of Korea," the letter stated.

A copy of the letter has also been given to the honorary South Korean Consul General in Kolkata, Rajiv Kaul.

Kaul was not available for comment.


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