It’s a “HIT” for Junior Pataudi much before his Bollywood Hindi film’s release ‘Agent Vinod’. Actor Saif Ali Khan hit an NRI businessman of Indian origin, Iqbal Sharma (44) who is also the director general and CEO of the Trade, Industry & Investments of South Africa. Saif also assaulted Sharma’s 68 year old father-in-law Ramanbhai Patel. Saif was later released on bail.
It all began shortly after midnight on Tuesday at Japanese restaurant Wasabi at the Taj Mahal Hotel, Colaba. Sharma told
police 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.
Saif says Mr Sharma was rude to the women at his table and that when Saif intervened; Mr Sharma threw the first punch. The actor filed a counter-complaint with the Colaba police under section 325 against Sharma and his father for allegedly causing him “grievous injury”. “I acted in self-defence. I was hit…I’ve got hit on the eye,” he said in a press conference. Shakeel Ladak and Bilal Amrohi were also arrested with the actor. Just after they got bail by paying a surety of Rs.15, 000 each. Saif said, “I think they have the CCTV footage in the restaurant that will prove everything. I hope the media is able to remain impartial while the matter is being decided. I don’t think any gentleman would have behaved differently.”
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. He then went to GT Hospital where the doctors told him he had fractured his nasal bone. After getting his treatment done, Sharma headed straight to the Colaba police station to file a complaint. 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.
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.
Saif has been involved in public spats earlier too, including some photojournalists in Patiala, bashing up Gay activist Ashok Row Kavi by passing ugly statements for his mother Sharmila Tagore in September 2008.