Indian filmmaker set to return home after pleading guilty
By Arun Kumar
Washington, Sep 9, An Mumbai-based documentary filmmaker is finally set to be released from a Texas jail after pleading “no contest” to charges of illegally carrying brass knuckles in his luggage to avoid a lengthy trial.
Vijay Kumar, 40, who was arrested at Houston airport Aug 20 after being found carrying the prohibited item and “jihadist” literature Wednesday pleaded “no contest” to a misdemeanour weapons charge in exchange for time served.
A resident of Malad in Mumbai, Kumar was sentenced to 20 days in jail and given credit for time served. Kumar agreed to the plea deal to avoid further jail time and immigration charges.
“He’s just a victim of circumstance,” said his attorney Grant Scheiner. “They should have just dismissed the case once they found out he had relied on a TSA (Transportation Security Administration) website,” he said.
“He’d even checked the TSA regulations on the Internet and was told it was OK to transport brass knuckles as long as they were in your checked-in bags,” the attorney said.
But as brass knuckles aren’t legal in Texas, Kumar who was on his way to Vancouver, Canada, to attend a peace conference at the invitation of a Hindu organisation was charged with carrying a prohibited weapon.
The judge ordered his passport seized, federal authorities revoked his visa and then immigration held him in Harris County jail for failure to have a passport.
“I don’t think he ever wants to come back to America again,” Scheiner said.
Kumar will be returned to federal detention where he is expected to be processed and “voluntarily deported” back to India.
“I was so scared. What is going on with me? But after that I feel if I am not wrong, then their people cannot do anything wrong with me,” Kumar told Houston’s KTRK-TV.
“Because I am making a documentary on Jihadist terrorism, I have been doing the research on this subject for the last four or five years,” he said explaining why was carrying books on Jihadism in his luggage.
“We Hindus are facing the same problems Americans are facing with the Jiihadic people,” he said. “So they should recognise us. If they harass us in their country what will the image of America become in my country.”
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)