Mumbai: Amid high drama, Bollywood actor Saif Ali Khan was arrested Wednesday evening with two others for assaulting an Non-Resident Indian (NRI) businessman. All three were later released on bail after being interrogated, police said.
Police detained Saif and his friends Bilal Amrohi and actress Amrita Arora’s husband Shakeel Ladak at the Marine Drive police station, and later brought them to the Colaba police station. The interrogation of the trio – about the incident early Wednesday at the Taj Mahal Hotel in which Saif is accused of assaulting South African NRI businessman Iqbal Sharma – lasted one hour.
They were formally arrested and then given bail on personal bonds of Rs.3,000 each.
According to sources, Shakeel Ladak is said to have hit Sharma’s father-in-law in the scuffle.
Shakeel and Bilal’s lawyer Mahesh Vaswani said, “Iqbal and his group of people were passing comments on the girls (who were part of Saif’s group), and that started the incident.”
On his part, Saif said he had only “defended” himself after being “assaulted”.
“There was an ugly incident last night (Tuesday) where my friends and the ladies with us were abused and I was assaulted. I was hit and I defended myself,” Saif said in a statement.
“I have been to the police station to answer the requirements of law as I am a law abiding citizen. I have also filed a complaint about what happened last night and I am confident justice will be done,” he added.
A battery of top police officers were waiting for the actor at the Colaba police station, besides the media and scores of fans.
In the afternoon, police sent a team to Saif’s house and after failing to locate him there, had ordered him to appear before them as early as possible.
The Hindi movie actor, Saif, was virtually declared ‘wanted’ when he went incommunicado after assaulting Sharma, who is also the Director General and CEO of the Trade, Industry & Investments of South Africa.
The actor has been charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code for allegedly assaulting Sharma in the Taj Mahal Hotel around 1 a.m. Wednesday morning. Police said a case of assault had been registered at the Colaba police station.
Police are also questioning staff at the hotel and examining the CCTV footage.
Legal experts said that the offences for which Saif has been booked are bailable.
Sharma told TimesNow television that Saif called him an “idiot” for complaining about the actor’s loud conduct at a restaurant in the Taj Mahal Hotel.
He said he and his family had requested the restaurant manager to ask Saif and his friends, which included Kareena, Amrita Arora and Malaika Arora Khan, to keep their voices down.
Sharma said he and his family decided to move to another part of the restaurant downstairs.
“As we were going down the stairs, Saif was coming up, probably from the toilet. As he passed me, he called me an idiot and asked ‘Do you know who I am?’”
Sharma said the actor first pushed him and then assaulted his father-in-law who fell on the stairs and bruised his jaw.
“It was an uncivilized way to behave in a public space,” Sharma said, adding that he intended to pursue the matter legally.
A police officer confirmed that Sharma and his guests had objected to the noise created by Saif and his friends.
The incident occurred shortly after midnight Tuesday.
Saif has been involved in public spats earlier too, including some photojournalists in Patiala in September 2008.
The actor has won the Padma Shri award, which did not go down well with the Bishnoi community in Rajasthan as he is accused of killing a blackbuck — an animal the Bishnois hold sacred. Saif was charged with poaching as the blackbuck is on the endangered list.