Who among us has never become a little flustered in the presence of a celebrity? For a group of Indian prison guards this all-too-common phenomenon may have cost them their jobs.
One guard has been suspended and eight others are being investigated after they were seen hugging and shaking hands with a Bollywood star who had just been released on bail.
Television footage of the actor Sanjay Dutt being released on bail and leaving Yerwada prison in the city of Pune last week showed the guards smiling broadly and shaking hands with him. One guard, Milind Dandi, was shown hugging the tough-guy actor, star of many huge Bollywood hits. An inquiry into the incident was ordered when a senior federal politician saw the footage. Dutt was released on bail last Thursday, having been jailed for six years for the illegal possession of weapons supplied by men involved in the 1993 Mumbai bombings which killed 257 people.
He and five others were granted bail by the Supreme Court, essentially on a technicality because the court in Mumbai which convicted them had not handed them a copy of their sentences.
Judge Pramod Kode said yesterday that he would hand out copies of the sentences next month. Dutt and the others will then have to return to prison.