The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Faux pas flurry at terror point
- Canadian film-maker on dawn shoot held off American Center

A director’s attempt to catch an early-morning mist on camera led to his arrest on Thursday morning.

It was the location that proved crucial for Canadian film-maker Curtis Wehrfitr. The 41-year-old was detained by police as he was scouting around in front of the American Center for the perfect shot. The police, who stand guard at the Jawaharlal Nehru Road building following the January 23 shootout, zoomed in on the film-maker, exposing his film before picking him up.

This is the third case where the police have over-reacted in under a week. Last Friday, the commandos picked up two policemen from the West Bengal squad for “loitering” near the Center. On Monday, they arrested a beggar from the area, on the suspicion that he was a “terrorist’’.

Toronto-based Curtis, director of Four Days, is scanning the city for locations and taking photographs of “interesting people and places”, accompanied by girlfriend Samantha Rachelle. But the professional visit soon turned sour. “I was taking a stroll with my camera at around 7 am when I saw a man pulling a handcart through the fog. The scene was interesting and I wanted to capture it on film. Then, commandos rushed towards me with rifles. I got scared and raised both my hands in the air,” he recounted.

The commandos pushed him down on his knees and conducted a search, exposing his film and scanning his papers, before taking him to Shakespeare Sarani thana. There, he was interrogated by senior officers of the subsidiary intelligence bureau, special branch and the security control wing of the city police.

Curtis and Samantha arrived in Delhi on a tourist visa (J144511) on December 17 and took the Air Sahara (S2 302) flight to Calcutta the next day. They checked into a central Calcutta hotel on Wednesday afternoon, and early on Thursday, Curtis decided to “take a look around the area”.

They are headed for north Bengal on Friday morning, and the Northeast after that. But police have asked the Canadian couple to report to them before leaving the city.

The sudden spate of arrests has, however, prompted senior officers to “look into the situation”. Deputy commissioner, south, Kuldip Singh, is learnt to have summoned the officer-in-charge of security, for the past week, in front of the American Center.

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