Day one: Abu Dhabi
|GLAD TO BE BACK: Vijay Raaz relaxing at home yesterday with his five-year-old daughter Tanishka |
It's February 13. Etihaat flight lands at 10.15 am Dubai time. I go through Immigration check and reach Customs. The customs guys tell me to come to another room.
They tell me they have found a packet of ganja in my check-in luggage. I am shocked!
I tell them repeatedly I don't know how it has come into my bag. They find some medicines too which they also put in as drugs. When I tell them that I have the prescription for it they don't listen. Then they take my cell phone away. They speak in Arabic and I don't have a clue about what they are saying.
Then a man steps in and says, "Let me help you," and tries to communicate in broken English. It becomes worse as they don't understand what I am saying.
Finally, I am given a paper, which I am asked to sign. They take me into police custody. I sign it without understanding what's in it because it is written in Arabic. I can't even ask anybody because I don't know if they will tell me the truth. After I sign it, I understand that they are taking it as an admission of guilt. I have no choice....
Day two: Blood test
I am in jail. Once in a while a police officer comes to question me. They take my blood and urine samples, the results of which come out drug-free, as I knew it would.
That's the first inkling they get of my innocence. They know that if I were taking drugs, it would show in my tests.
Today too, they come with Xeroxes of the paper I had signed and ask me to sign again a number of times. I cooperate and sign whatever they want, in the hope that they will let me go.
What I want is my freedom, to step on the soil of my country, to look at the faces of my wife Krishna and daughter again.
Day three: Despair
I am in despair. I don't know where I am. There's a sense of timelessness as I am totally cut off from the outside world. Nobody knows if I am dead or alive.
There is no outside contact with anybody. I keep praying to God and asking him why he has done this to me when I have not harmed anybody in my life? Apparently, the law there is that they don't allow an arrested man to communicate with anyone for the first three days.
Day four: Hope floats
A sense of unrealism grips me. I have shot jail scenes so many times. Sometimes, I hover between reality and cinema. Am I in a film shoot? Are the jail and the bars just props? The food is not bad. We are given dal-sabzi, sometimes veg and sometimes non-veg fare and plenty of fruits.
But I don't like standing in line for food like a petty criminal. I hardly feel like eating. My appetite has gone. I've lost weight. Then, suddenly, there is hope. I speak on the phone to the Indian ambassador in Abu Dhabi, Sudhir Vyas, who assures me of help. I tell him clearly what happened.
Day five: My family
They shift me to a new place. I hear my wife is in very bad shape. She breaks down while talking to Anurag Kashyap. Firoze Nadiadwala, Mira Nair and her brother, Bharat Bala and Sunil Shetty are constantly in touch with her.
Sab jaanon ne sambhala mere parivar ko. I want to know what I have done to be punished in such a way. But I won't complain because they didn't treat me badly.
Sometimes, if they couldn't understand what I was saying, they would get a little rude but they never beat me or abused me physically or mentally. If they had tortured me, I would have died.
Days six, seven, eight and nine...
Everything passes by in a blur. The Indian embassy has been a huge help. I meet Firoze as it's Jaara Day - when prisoners are allowed to meet visitors. I talk to him on the intercom and he informs me about hiring a lawyer. The lawyer comes to meet me and I give my power-of-attorney.
Day ten: I'm free
It's February 22. At 8 pm the police officers come up to me and say, "Aflata! Aflata! Bara! Bara!" Which means you can go, you are free. They tell me that I can go anywhere. I want to go home.
But before that, I speak to Johnny Lever, Paresh Rawal, Sunil and Firoze. They can't come to meet me, as they are shooting four hours away. I am taken to Abu Dhabi airport.
The first secretary from the Indian embassy, Sujit Kumar, and Sudhir Vyas come to meet me all the way. I am overwhelmed with the love that people have given me. Their prayers that have saved me. It's been a strange experience.