Saif Ali Khan arrested for assault

img_28076_agent-vinod-teaser-trailer-english-subtitledActor Saif Ali Khan was arrested and released on bail on Wednesday evening for allegedly beating up a businessman at a five-star SoBo restaurant.

Saif was arrested by the Colaba police at around 7.30pm for assaulting a South African businessman of Indian origin, Iqbal Meer Sharma (44), in the Japanese restaurant Wasabi at the Taj late on Tuesday night. Businessman Shakeel Ladak and producer Bilal Amrohi were also arrested for their role in allegedly assaulting Sharma’s 69-year-old father-in-law. The three were booked for assault and voluntarily causing grievous hurt and were released on bail by 8.30pm after surety was furnished by their lawyer.

In a statement released to the media, Saif said he was simply acting in self-defence and refuted all charges leveled by Sharma. “I am a law-abiding citizen. It was Sharma who started the fight and now he is lying with a straight face. I hope the footage from the area can be examined as that will prove who is right,” he said.

Sharma, a South African citizen of Indian origin, is a former deputy director general of the department of trade and investment of South Africa.

He told police he was dining at Wasabi with his family on Tuesday night. Saif was at the adjacent table with a group of people including actor Kareena Kapoor, her sister Karisma, Amrita Arora, her husband Shakeel Ladak, Malaika Arora Khan, producer Bilal Amrohi and a few others. “They were making a lot of noise and I asked the management to request them to tone it down. This happened thrice but there was no change in their behaviour. Finally at around 12.30am we decided to leave, which is when the incident took place,” said Sharma.

Sharma in his complaint said he was going down the stairs and Saif was coming up, when they met in between. That is when Saif allegedly accosted him and abused him. “He asked me what my problem was and said I should go to a library if I wanted peace and quiet. We exchanged some words and he called me an idiot. He then punched me, while two other men pushed my father-in-law,” said Sharma.

Sharma then went to GT Hospital where the doctors told him he had fractured his nasal bone. After receiving treatment, he went to the Colaba police station to file a complaint. “He came at 2.30am and narrated the entire sequence of events. We registered an FIR against Saif Ali Khan and two unknown men who were not identified by Sharma,” said Iqbal Sheikh, assistant commissioner of police (Colaba division).

Sheikh said they will examine CCTV footage from the hotel and question eyewitnesses to get a clear picture. “There is no CCTV footage available from the spot where the fight took place. But we will check footage from entry and exit points to verify if the time references given by the complainant are accurate,” he said. When contacted, the Taj spokesperson refused to comment.

On Wednesday morning, Colaba police sent a team to the actor’s Bandra residence but he wasn’t there. Sources said they were unable to establish contact with the actor or any of his associates till late afternoon. At around 4.30pm, there was official confirmation that the actor would court arrest at Colaba. He finally arrived in a police vehicle by 7.30pm along with Ladak, Amrohi and his lawyers, where he was arrested and immediately released on bail. Saif’s lawyer Mohan Jaykar said, “The complaint against Saif is totally false. The provocation came from Sharma. In any event, Saif did not punch him on his nose.”

The actor filed a counter-complaint with the Colaba police under section 325 against Sharma and his father for allegedly causing him “grievous injury”. Saif alleged he had been provoked by Sharma who allegedly was behaving in an obnoxious manner and “using unparliamentary language” around the table where he sat with others.

A close friend of Saif alleged, “When Saif was coming back from the washroom he was attacked on the neck by this middle-aged man. It was an unprovoked act of aggression and Saif reacted only after it.”

Sharma has however insisted that he will not opt for an out-of-court settlement at any stage. “This is a serious matter and we will not compromise on the issue. He and his friends have assaulted an old man and this is unpardonable. I will not back down even if he apologizes,” he said.

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