Brawl not a publicity stunt, says Saif

Mumbai: Bollywood actor Saif Ali Khan, who has been accused of assaulting an NRI businessman, says the brawl is not a "publicity stunt" and he feels sorry for what has happened.

The 41-year-old actor was arrested and released on bail last night after Indian origin South African national Iqbal Meer Sharma complained that Saif had assaulted him at the Taj Mahal hotel in the intervening night of Tuesday and Wednesday.

At a press conference here for his upcoming film `Agent Vinod`, Saif said, "This is not a publicity stunt (for the film). I hope this matter gets sorted out soon," he said, reiterating that he could have handled the situation in a better way but it didn`t happen. "I feel sorry for what has happened," he added.

The incident took place at the Wasabi restaurant in the hotel where the actor was accompanied by his actress girlfriend Kareena Kapoor and her sister Karisma, Malaika Arora Khan and her sister Amrita with her husband Shakeel Ladak and Bilal Amrohi, a producer.

Saif has filed a counter complaint against Sharma, saying that he acted only in defence after the businessman`s father-in-law hit him and the duo abused the ladies with him.

He claimed innocence saying the charge against him was "false". "I was hit first. And as shocking as it may seem, the elderly gentleman hit me. I`m not sure what provoked him. I was only defending myself. I don`t think any gentleman would have behaved any differently than what I did. I am confident that justice will be done. I think they (police) have the CCTV footage from the restaurant and that will prove everything," Saif said on Wednesday night.

But police said today that there is no CCTV footage of the fight as there were no cameras installed in the area where the brawl took place. "Though Saif and his lawyer have been claiming that the complainant Iqbal Sharma made provocative statements or rather used abusive language against women with the actor and this led to the ruckus, there were no CCTVs installed at the place where the actor had allegedly punched the complainant on the nose," said an investigating officer at Colaba police station.

"We could have made a strong case if we would have had the footage showing Saif hitting the complainant," he added.

Saif, Ladak and Amrohi were booked under sections 325 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intent) of IPC.

The brawl broke out a little past midnight when Sharma, seated along with his family at a table adjacent to that occupied by Saif and his friends, complained to the hotel management about their noisy chatter.

According to the complaint, the actor accosted him near the staircase at the entrance of the restaurant and after some heated arguments, punched him on the nose, causing a fracture.

So far, statement of eight persons have been recorded in which except Sharma and his family members, nobody else has come forward to say that the actor had bashed up the victim, police sources said.