Shiney Ahuja, who is out on bail after being convicted for seven years on March 30 on the charge of raping his maid, is in the process of rehabilitating himself: "I’m visiting temples and preparing to tell my three-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Arshiya, the truth. I want her to know that her father was framed, that he is innocent and loves her a lot. Before anyone asks her, I’m going to tell her exactly what happened so she can walk with her head held high and proudly say that she’s Shiney Ahuja’s daughter."
The actor admits that there have been times when he’d thought of leaving the country and settling abroad. He’d toyed with the idea of becoming a cabbie and starting life afresh once all this was behind him.
"But Anupam (wife) and I have decided against taking such a step for Arshiya’s sake. I don’t want to teach her to run away from life, but to face it. In the last two years, both Anupam and I have learnt from every experience that God has put us through."
The actor spent three-and-a-half months in jail in 2009 after his arrest and then a little over a month in 2011. "The first time, I was in so much pain that I wanted to end my life. But that would have been selfish, I had to think about my family. My parents, Anupam and Arshiya have given me the courage to live through this ordeal," he says.
He admits that for the first six weeks, he was angry and asking himself, "Why did this have to happen to me?" But he insists that he never judged or cursed anyone: "I don’t want those who put me through this to suffer the same pain. I asked questions and searched for answers and understood that I needed to be in jail to wash away my bad ‘karma’. I pray that this pain washes away any wrong I might have inadvertently done."
Shiney appeals to his colleagues to keep an open mind and not be swayed by lies. "I have paid the price of being a celebrity," he sighs, grateful to directors like Anurag Basu, Sudhir Mishra, Jahnu Barua and Kunal Shivdasani, producers Titu and Mahesh Bhatt and co-stars like Chitrangada Singh and Priety Zinta for their support. "Pritish Nandy even visited me in jail, to see someone from the industry was such a relief. And Kangna (Ranaut) said on Koffee With Karan that she’d continue to work with me because she doesn’t believe I’m guilty."
Shiney has three films ready for release-- Har Pal, Accident and Mary Macdelene. He says, “I am not expecting any new offers but taking each day as it comes.”
Anupam says more optimistically, “It won’t be long before people offer him films. Life has been so tough. Financially we are down to zero and living on overdrafts of fixed deposits we had kept aside for Arshiya.”
June14, 2009: Shiney Ahuja taken into police custody, after his maid lodges an FIR alleging the he raped her
June 15, 2009: The accused is arrested on rape charge.
June 16, 2009: Actor’s wife, Anupam Ahuja, holds a press conference, claiming her husband is innocent.
July 8, 2009: Shiney’s first plea for bail rejected by a session’s court
August 13, 2009: The police file a 109-page chargesheet against Shiney accusing him of rape, wrongful confinement and threatening his domestic help
September 10, 2009: Local court rejects Shiney’s second bail plea.
October 1, 2009: After spending around three-and-a half months in jail, the Bombay HC grants him bail on surety of R 50,000 and the assurance that he will stay out of Mumbai. He moves to Delhi.
January 2010: Charges are framed in the fast-track court
August 2010: During cross-examination, the maid says that Shiney did not rape her and wants charges dropped.
March 30, 2011: Shiney convicted for seven years on charge of rape. He is acquitted for wrongful confinement and threatening his domestic help
April 19, 2011: High Court accepts Shiney’s appeal for reversal of judgement. His bail plea is scheduled for hearing on April 27 as the public prosecutor was absent from the court.
April 27, 2011: High Court grants bail.
May 3, 2011: Shiney comes home.