Mumbai, Feb 22: Saif Ali Khan was tonight arrested and released by the police on bail after being charged with assaulting an NRI businessman who protested the raucous chatter of the Bollywood actor and his friends in a restaurant at a luxury hotel last midnight.
The 41-year-old actor and his two friends were booked under sections 325 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intent) of IPC for assaulting a South African businessman of Indian origin Iqbal Sharma at ‘Wasabi', a Japanese restaurant at the Taj Hotel.
All three were let off on bail on a surety of Rs 15,000 each after completion of formalities that took nearly two hours, according to police.
Khan, however, claimed innocence saying the charge against him was “false” and that it was he who was assaulted and the ladies with him abused.
The actor and his two accused friends in their statement recorded by the police blamed Sharma for starting the fracas, according to the Mahesh Vaswani, the lawyer for Shakeel Ladak and Bilal Amrohi, who were charged along with Khan.
“There was an ugly incident last night where my friend and the ladies with us were abused and I was assaulted. I was hit and I was only defending myself,” Khan said in a statement, adding “I don't think any gentleman would have behaved any differently than what I did.”
“I am confident that justice will be done. I think they (police) have the CCTV footage from the restaurant and that will prove everything. I have seen the interviews given by them (victim) and they look like decent people. I cannot believe that the same people were so aggressive the night before and the lies that they are saying about me with such straight faces,” the actor said.
Sharma, however, rejected the actor's claim and said the truth will come out during the investigation.
The brawl broke out a little past midnight when Sharma, seated along with his family at a table adjacent to that occupied by Khan, his companion actress Kareena Kapoor and others, complained to the hotel management about their noisy chatter.
According to the complaint, the actor accosted Sharma near the staircase at the entrance of the restaurant and after some heated arguments, punched him on the nose, causing a fracture.
Khan, Ladak and Amrohi were brought to the Colaba police station around 8 PM in a police vehicle and whisked inside through the rear entrance amid a large media and public presence.
According to sources, Khan had left his lawyer's office at Gamdevi in his own car but boarded the police vehicle near Nariman Point where he and others were arrested before being brought to the police station.
Since the actor was booked under lighter, bailable sections of the penal law, he was granted bail by the police instead of having to approach a court.
There was huge security bandobust at the police station which was out of bounds for the media.