Indian filmmaker didn't do anything 'illegal'

“I didn’t do anything illegal,” Vijay Kumar said after he agreed to plead “no contest” to a misdemeanour weapons charge in exchange for time served. “This was the mistake of the TSA.”

Kumar said he was disappointed, because “poor policies and a poor legal system” have kept him locked up without bail for nearly three weeks, Houston Chronicle quoted him as saying.

The 40-year-old documentary maker said he relied on the Department of Homeland Security’s travel rules which allow certain martial arts weapons in checked baggage when he tried to board his flight at Bush Intercontinental Airport. The weapon is illegal to possess under Texas law, and a felony to have at an airport. Kumar was sentenced to 20 days in jail and given credit for time served. Kumar agreed to the plea deal to avoid further jail time and immigration charges.

“He’s just a victim of circumstance,” said his attorney Grant Scheiner. “They should have just dismissed the case once they found out he had relied on a TSA website,” he said. “I don’t think he ever wants to come back to America again,” the attorney said.

Kumar, a resident of Malad in Mumbai, was detained at Houston airport security on August 20 who said he was acting suspiciously and had Islamic “fundamentalist” literature in his carry-on bag. He had been invited to Houston to participate in a Hindu organisation’s conference. The literature was used to educate the participants on the recruiting techniques of ‘Jihadists’, Scheiner said.

Although the item can be carried in stowed luggage, according to the TSA, but it’s against Texas state law to possess them. That landed Kumar in county jail where his passport was taken from him.

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