Thursday, February 24, 2011

Indian officials treated me well: Rahat

ISLAMABAD, February 23, 2011

Pakistani singer Rahat Fateh Ali Khan was all praise for the Government of India on Wednesday despite being caught on the wrong side of Indian law for trying to leave the country with $1,24,000 in currency notes earlier this month.

Briefing the media in Lahore soon after his return to the country following the 10-day ordeal in New Delhi, the singer – heir to the legacy of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan – conceded that the authorities could have complicated matters for him, but maintained that they were deferential to his status as an artiste and treated him well.

Unaware of Indian law

Giving a short account of what had transpired, Rahat Fateh Ali said he and his troupe were unaware of the Indian law that does not allow an individual to take out more than $5,000 in currency notes at a time. They thought each person could carry $10,000 and did not declare the amount at the Indian Customs counter in the New Delhi airport since this was a 14-member troupe and so the entire amount when split among the group was within permissible limits.

Slightly critical of the media – both here and in India for speculative stories – the singer said normally all payments for his shows the world over were through bank-to-bank transfers and this was the first time he was carrying so much of cash back. He, however, did not divulge details as to why this time he had taken cash payments for his five shows on this visit to India. Maintaining that he was not a tax defaulter, the singer asserted that he had not wilfully done anything wrong to bring a bad name to Pakistan.

About his interrogation, Rahat Fateh Ali said as per the advice of federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik, he cooperated with the authorities. To questions on whether the investigators threatened or intimidated him, his counter was: "Why should they when I was cooperating with them? They treated me like an artiste.\'\'

Closed chapter

Stating that this was a closed chapter for him, the singer said he had not decided yet whether to move the court for getting back the $1,24,000 that was seized from him and was hopeful of being able to work again in India despite the Shiv Sena warning Bollywood against working with Pakistani artistes.

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