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Rahat Fateh Ali Khan freed, not allowed to leave India

Posted by on February 14, 2011 0 Comment

New Delhi, Feb 14 (IANS) With Pakistan cranking up diplomatic pressure, Pakistani singer Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, who was detained at the Delhi airport on charges of carrying undisclosed foreign currency, was released Monday after hours of interrogation by officials of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence – but has been asked to stay in the country.

Rahat, along with two of his colleagues Maroof and Chitresh Shirivastava, have been asked to appear before the DIR Feb 17, informed sources said.

Rahat was released after an assurance by the Pakistan High Commission that he will cooperate with the probe, the sources added. He has been told not to leave the country.

“We are only questioning him. We will be shortly taking a decision,” Vijaylakshmi Sharma, Director-General of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, told reporters in Delhi.

Rahat was detained at New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport Sunday on his way back to Pakistan after attending concerts and award functions in India. More than $100,000 was recovered from the 15-member troupe.

Islamabad started working up diplomatic channels to free him after he was detained Sunday night.

Government sources in New Delhi Monday said India’s external affairs ministry has been in touch with Pakistan’s foreign office over the issue.

Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir called Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad Sharat Sabharwal and discussed the matter around midnight Sunday. He requested the Indian envoy to ensure that “no official should misbehave with Rahat during interrogation”.

Bashir also called up Pakistani High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik and directed him to “take immediate steps for securing release of Rahat”.

“The matter should be taken up formally with Indian foreign office,” he said, adding that “contact with Indian authorities for updates in the case must be maintained throughout”.

Earlier, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik called Shahid Malik and directed him “to provide necessary legal and other consular help to Rahat”.

“Regular updates should be given to authorities in Pakistan regarding efforts to resolve the case,” he stressed.

Rahat’s brother-in-law, Asim Raza, told Dunya TV that they “received information from the media and were feeling concerned about it”. “We are yet to establish any proper contact with the authorities in India although Rahat talked briefly with his wife and asked her to remain hopeful of a positive outcome”.

Rahat, the nephew of legendary singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, is popular both in India and Pakistan. Several of his hit songs from Indian films are a rage on both sides of the border, for which he has won several awards, including the recent Filmfare award for “Dil to Bacha Hai Ji”.

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