Filmmaker pleads guilty in brass knuckles case

September 8, 2010 5:49:10 PM PDT
A documentary filmmaker from India is finally set to be released from jail after a bizarre string of events left him behind bars. He came to Houston last month for a peace conference. But what has happened since has not been much of a peaceful journey. He is a native of India, a documentary filmmaker, a Hindu by religion, and Vijay Kumar has spent three weeks in the Harris County jail and federal detention.

Kumar said, "I was so scared. What is going on with me? But after that I feel if I am not wrong, then their people cannot do anything wrong with me."

Kumar's problems began at the end of a visit to Houston last month to attend a peace conference. He was at Bush Intercontinental Airport racing to catch a flight when TSA screeners pulled him aside. In the baggage he intended to check was a pair of brass knuckles.

Kumar's attorney Grant Shiner explained, "He'd even checked the TSA regulations on the Internet and was told it was OK to transport brass knuckles as long as they were in your checked-in bags."

Brass knuckles, though, aren't legal in Texas. Books on Jihadism were also in his luggage. Kumar has an explanation for that as well.

He said, "Because I am making a documentary on Jihadist terrorism, I have been doing the research on this subject for the last four or five years."

Kumar was charged with carrying a prohibited weapon. The judge ordered his passport seized. And then immigration held him for failure to have a passport.

His attorneys thought he had plenty of defenses against the charge, but Vijay Kumar pleaded no contest in state court. He was sentenced to 20 days in jail, which he's already served.

He'll soon be voluntarily deported. He's anxious to go home. It was not the experience he imagined.

"We Hindus are facing the same problems Americans are facing with the Jiihadic people," Kumar said. "So they should recognize us. If they harass us in their country what will the image of America become in my country?"

Barring any unforeseen roadblocks, Kumar should be flying back in India in a week.


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