Seeking to clear the air over his son Rahul's connections with terror suspect David Headley, filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt on Friday said his family had decided to break to the police information about the contacts between the two.
Bhatt said his first wife, who lives separately, called him up about 15-20 days ago to inform that Rahul, a fitness expert, had told her that he knew Headley, a US national, who was introduced to him by an acquaintance.
"Rahul was shocked to see the man's photographs on telelvision channels which said he was part of a terror network. The family decided that Rahul should volunteer this information to the police, as the matter concerned national security," Bhatt told journalists.
The veteran filmmaker said he himself called up Mumbai Joint Commissioner of Police Rakesh Maria to inform him that his son had some "sensitive information" which he wanted to share with him.
"Rahul was immediately granted an appointment and he shared the information he had with the police," he said.
Bhatt emphatically denied that his son had any friendship with Headley, arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for plotting terror attacks in India, saying "a person you run into in a gym cannot be called a friend".
Bhatt said following Rahul's meeting with Maria, officials of national security agencies interacted with him and "it is an ongoing kind of a dialogue".
Asked why the family kept silent on the issue for such a long time, Bhatt said, "Because silence was expected of us as it was in national interest."
"We are honest and see people in their eyes. Security officials told us to keep silent as bringing such a thing in public domain was not in national interest," he said recalling how the 26/11 perpetrators came to know everything about the operations launched by security forces by just watching TV.
"For God's sake don't trivialise it. The significance of the issue is immense," he said.
When asked whether Rahul had helped Headley get a house on rent near Breach Candy hospital, Bhatt said, "You are basing your question on a newspaper report presuming it to be true. It is for the security agencies to authenticate it. It is among the security agencies, the media and the people."
Replying to a query about whether the police had given a clean chit to Rahul, Bhatt said, "He has never had to do anything which is even remotely criminal. A person with criminal passion would not go to the police (and reveal like Rahul did). He is comfortable at home."
Asked whether Rahul would want to go public on the issue, Bhatt said, "This is possible only when security agencies give him the green signal that the matter can be discussed in public domain. His silence is in national interest."
Asked how his son was doing after coming to know of Headley's terror links, Bhatt said, "Like any upright, honest and law abiding Indian would do."
Image: Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt