The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Freed in Dubai, grilled in India

Mumbai, Dec. 2: Arrested in Dubai on drug charges, Farhan Azmi, the son of Samajwadi Party MP Abu Asim Azmi, was freed from jail yesterday and landed here smiling around 6 pm today.

The smile, however, vanished soon after he landed at the international airport. Immigration authorities grilled him for about two hours and Farhan came out saying the Dubai authorities may have let him off but the Indian police have listed him as a drug dealer.

“This is because he is a Muslim,” his father alleged as he vowed to take up the matter with the Centre as party supporters went berserk at the delay. Soon, there were fisticuffs and the Central Industrial Security Force had to resort to lathicharge to quell the mob.

Farhan, car designer Dilip Chhabria’s son Bonny, film maker G.P. Sippy’s grandson Shan Uttam Singh and one Prasad Dandekar were arrested in Dubai about two months ago for possessing drugs. While Shaan, Bonny and Farhan are out of jail — though Bonny and Shaan are still held up in Dubai — the fate of Prasad is unknown. Prasad is in jail, a Samajwadi Party activist close to Azmi said.

“I come to India after 37 days and this is what I get,’’ Farhan, who owns two hip restaurants in Mumbai — Basilico and Koyla — said, his voice drowning in the cacophony of welcoming cheers from Samajwadi supporters and family members. There was chaos in the airport after news trickled out that Farhan was being “grilled” by the police.

“My son has been permitted to return because prosecutors found him innocent,’’ Azmi said, expressing fears that his son may be picked up by Mumbai police. He also charged the Maharashtra government with “unleashing a vendetta” against him because he had in the past “voiced the ongoing persecution of Muslims”.

Azmi was earlier charged by Mumbai police for his links with the Dawood Ibrahim group and involvement in the riots of 1992-93. The charges were ultimately dropped. Arrested under Tada for his alleged role in the Mumbai riots of 1993, he was in jail for a year and 10 days. The Supreme Court later exonerated him saying the evidence against him could not stand the scrutiny of law.

“Intelligence officials are tailing me everywhere. Yesterday, CID officials were breathing down my neck at a protest held against the withdrawal of Haj subsidy by the NDA government,” Azmi said.

Farhan said he was treated well by the Dubai authorities and not tortured either physically or mentally. “I have been told that I can fly in and out of Dubai like any other,” he said, adding he would try his best to get his friends out of Dubai.

Farhan said he would have been freed earlier but the process got delayed by Id festivities.

After the chaos at the airport Farhan finally left for home, ironically in a car designed by Dilip Chhabria.

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