| Gustad being taken to court on Wednesday. (Reuters)
Mumbai, June 2: Kaizad Gustad has been arrested for the death of assistant director Nadia Khan working with him on his latest venture Mumbai Central.
The director of Boom and Bombay Boys is behind bars in the Mumbai Central police station lock-up, charged under a culpable homicide law.
In a dingy corner of the police station, a frazzled Gustad said when he lied about the cause of Nadia’s death, telling doctors and police she had been hit by a truck and not a train, he did so to get urgent medical attention for her. “The action was taken in panic, it was a humanitarian error.”
On May 25, the 27-year-old British national assisting Gustad was struck dead allegedly by a passing train along a railway line the director was not authorised to shoot at. The film crew, especially line producer Ashish Udeshi who has also been arrested, told Tardeo police Nadia was hit by a truck.
Gustad and Udeshi were arrested under Section 304 of the Indian Penal Code (causing death by negligence). But the court suo motu charged the duo with the more serious Section 304A, a non-bailable offence that deals with “culpable homicide not amounting to murder”.
It rejected Gustad’s bail plea and remanded him in police custody till June 10.
Darshana Waiti, a constable on duty at the Mahalaxmi station when the incident happened, was also arrested. Out on bail, she has been charged with Section 201 (causing disappearance of evidence or giving false information to protect the offender).
The police say Waiti neither reported the matter to her seniors nor protested when Gustad and Udeshi conspired to change the rail accident into a road accident. Gustad denied rumours of the film unit bribing the police: “I have not seen the lady constable till now. I have not paid her any money to protect us.”
“I have never done anything so unethical in my entire life. It was a split-second decision we took to save Nadia’s life. We were not aware of the repercussions.’’
Udeshi, who took the bleeding Nadia to hospital, said he just wanted to take a short cut. “There was nothing else to it.”
They claim that Nadia’s job was to just look out for any incoming train and warn the rest of the crew on a walkie-talkie. “Her job was to alert us… nobody knows why she crossed the tracks. In fact, Nadia had been specifically asked to stay away from the tracks and the call sheet which she, along with the rest of the crew had gone through before shooting commenced, has her signature,” he added.
Railway police, to whom the case was transferred yesterday, will question 16 motormen and guards manning the eight trains that passed Mahalaxmi station at the time of the accident.
Many policemen at Tardeo police station could be in trouble for going along with the film unit’s version. Some had gone to the spot where Udeshi said the accident took place and allegedly reported “blood spots from the incident scene”.
Senior police inspector Ramdas Mhatre said a lot of questioning is to be done and many people may be in trouble. “This is serious, you know, what they have done. You don’t fool the law this way.”
As the police officer says this, Gustad screams: “I am responsible as the film’s director. I don’t know why Nadia had to cross the tracks. This will haunt us for the rest of our lives.”