Not targeted, grateful to Indian govt: Rahat

Last Updated: Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - 23:41

Lahore/Islamabad: Pakistani singer Rahat
Fatah Ali Khan, who was briefly detained in India for
possessing undeclared foreign currency, today said he will
visit the country again if "respectfully" invited, even as he
admitted guilt and claimed he was "unaware" of Indian custom
laws.

Rahat,37, dismissed the impression that he was made a
target in India. "As an artist, the Indian government helped
me a lot in (resolving) this case and I am grateful to them."
"It was a customs law that I was totally unaware of.

According to my knowledge, one can travel with up to USD
10,000 in foreign currency under international laws. In India,
the law is that you can carry only USD 5,000," he said.

"I will go to India if they respectfully call me,"
Khan told reporters during an interaction on his return when
he was asked if he would visit the neighbouring country again.

Khan returned to Pakistan following a brief detention
in India on charges of possessing undeclared foreign currency.

He admitted that he was guilty of the charges levelled
against him but said at the same time that he was not aware of
Indian laws regarding the possession of foreign currency.

Khan also addressed a news conference at a hotel in
Lahore this evening to clarify matters related to his
detention in India.

He said his detention was due to the lack of knowledge
about Indian custom laws. Khan also said he had never let
Pakistan down and would not disappoint his fans.

"I want to tell you that I did not deliberately
violate the Indian laws. I did not let my country down," he
said.

He said he was travelling with a 14-member team and
the money seized by Indian authorities when he was detained at
the airport in Delhi on February 13 belonged to all members of
the troupe.

Besides imposing a fine of Rs 15 lakh on him, the
Indian authorities had seized the cash, he said. "I never
carried such a huge amount in the past," he said.

All his transactions in the past in countries like
the US, Britain and Canada were done through banks, he added.

Khan also denied reports that he had evaded paying taxes in
Pakistan.
Asked if he would initiate legal proceedings to get
back his confiscated money, Khan replied: "Yes, I am
considering a legal course to get my money back but I will
make the final decision after consulting my friends."

The nephew of late qawwali legend
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan thanked Interior Minister Rehman Malik
and Pakistan`s High Commission in India Shahid Malik for
helping in his release.

He dismissed the impression that he was made a target
in India like Adnan Sami, another singer of Pakistani origin.

The 37-year-old singer was detained at Indira Gandhi
International Airport on February 13 on the charge that he was
carrying USD 124,000 that he had not declared.

In a related development, Interior Minister Rehman
Malik today said in parliament that Pakistani artists and
students with foreign scholarships will have to obtain
no--objection certificates from the Interior Ministry before
travelling abroad.

He won the Filmfare Award for Best Male Playback
Singer this year for `Dil To Bachcha Hai Ji` from the movie
`Ishqiya`.

Rahat and his entire troupe, numbering around 16,
including his manager Maroof and event manager were detained
and their interrogation were underway tonight several hours
after they were held by Directorate of Revenue Intelligence
(DRI) officials.

The Foreign Currency was not declared to Customs
officials after the immigration checks. The troupe was on in
its way to Lahore via Dubai by an Emirates flight.

The recovered foreign currency included USD 10,000
and USD 8,600 in demand drafts and some Traveller Cheques.

Rahat on February 19 was slapped with charges under
FEMA and Customs Act in connection with recovery of huge
undeclared foreign currency.

Rahat and his manager Maroof each paid Rs 15 lakh
by way of penalty slapped on them in connection with the
huge amount of undeclared foreign currency recovered from
them.

The amount was paid to the Indian Customs department
after the matter was adjudicated. The undeclared foreign
currency however remains confiscated.

Pakistan had asked India to immediately release Khan,
detained in New Delhi.

Pakistan Foreign Office was closely monitoring Khan`s
case and the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi had set up
a special team to liaise with the Directorate of Revenue
Intelligence, which had detained the singer.

As per norms, a foreign national cannot carry beyond
USD 5,000 USD in cash and 5,000 USD in other instruments. The
person has to declare the amount if he is carrying more than
this to the Customs Department.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - 23:41

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