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While they garner popularity for their roles, films, style quotient and lifestyle, Bollywood celebrities have also been grabbing eyeballs for their frequent detentions at airports.
From Bipasha Basu to Anushka Sharma and Minissha Lamba, many celebrities have got a taste of detention at the Mumbai airport for carrying undisclosed assets. What is surprising is that the incidents have been very frequent.
"I am sure there are a bunch of people who are detained by the customs daily. When a celebrity is detained, the entire episode is blown out of proportion and finds itself in the media glare. I guess the airport officials are aware that the chances that they (the stars) carry huge (amounts of) money or valueables are higher so they become easy targets," Minissha's spokesperson said.
The actress was recently detained at the international airport while returning from the Cannes Film Festival. She was stopped at the airport as she possessed undeclared jewellery worth Rs 50 lakhs. A customs official detained her when she was first spotted crossing the green channel at the airport.
On June 27, actress Anushka Sharma was detained by the customs for carrying undeclared diamond jewellery and two Christian Dior watches worth Rs 35 lakh. The actress was returning from Toronto via Singapore by an Air India flight after attending the International Indian Film Academy Awards (IIFA).
"Anushka was detained and questioned regarding possession of jewellery and accessories for which all documents were produced and verified by customs. The entire process was dealt by customs in a fair manner," said the 25-yea-old actress' spokesperson.
In the past, many other celebrities have also gone through similar experiences.
Pakistani singer Rahat Fateh Ali Khan was detained at the Delhi airport earlier this year (2011) as he was found to have a large amount of undeclared foreign currency in his possession, on his way to Karachi via Dubai. He had come to India to perform at the 'Aman Ki Asha' concerts. A team of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) detained him while he was clearing the departure formalities and released him only the next day.
Some years ago, Shilpa Shetty faced an embarassing similar situation at Mumbai airport when she was on her way to London to attend the IIFA function. According to the imigration authorities, a look-out notice had been issued in her name by a court in Rajasthan in an obscenity case. This was after Shilpa and Hollywood actor Richard Gere were seen kissing in public at a charity function.
"I think by targeting celebrities, the department is trying to set an example that every one is equal and no one is beyond law. In past few months the way they have detained few people and confiscated their undeclared accessories, they must have been tipped off previously. Customs and intelligence officials have always had the information but now they have become more active, it's appreciable," director Sanjay Puran Singh Chauhan said.
Added TIPS head honcho Kumar Taurani: "Celebrities have become so busy nowadays that they forget to do the proper paperwork regarding the stuff that they are carrying. They should follow all the rules and then there will be no problem."