Indian documentary filmmaker Vijay Kumar, who is being prosecuted in the US for carrying brass knuckles in a prohibited place, could get a jail term of upto 10 years if convicted.
40-year-old Kumar,a resident of Malad in Mumbai, was detained at Houston International airport for allegedly carrying brass knuckles and jihadist literature in his luggage and is now "stuck" in federal custody since last week.
Kumar is being prosecuted for carrying brass knuckles in a prohibited place, a third degree felony, punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison, said Donna Hawkins of the Harris County District attorney's office.
In Texas, brass-knuckles are prohibited by law so he was booked on a felony charge of Possessing a Prohibited Weapon in a Prohibited Place (in this case the airport). The TSA website, states that brass knuckles are allowed on planes in checked luggage, not carry-on bags.
Lawyer Roger Jain said that since Transportation Security Administration regulations allow Knuckles in checked in baggage, which shows that there is no violation for carrying it. Carrying Jihadist literature and a large amount of cash is not an issue, according to Hawkins. But even if a weapon is stored in a checked in baggage and not in carry on baggage, it is a punishable offence, she said. However, since the weapon was in his check-in-baggage, his lawyers argue that it was clear he did not want to attack anyone. If he had such plans, he would have kept it in the hand luggage.
After he was released on August 23 on bail, Immigration and Customs Enforcement revoked Kumar's visa, which allowed him to travel between India and America. Because he had neither a passport nor a visa, he was taken into federal custody, his attorney Grant Scheiner said. "They're the ones who created the situation by tying him up in a procedural knot, and we're just trying to untie it," Scheiner said. "If they don't grant him bail, then he's going to continue in this state of limbo."
The procedure to get a suspect from federal detention to county jail is not an easy task as per the lawyer Scheiner, because the federal case takes precedence. If Kumar makes bail, he can fight the state charge to get his passport back, Scheiner adds. According to Indian Consul General in Houston Sanjiv Arora, "CGI would remain actively engaged in the matter, to provide necessary consular assistance to Kumar and to satisfy itself that the case is handled expeditiously," Arora said.