After a journey filled with heartbreak and reunion, smuggling and ‘villains’, and a nine-year court battle, the story of Mumbai’s Veer-Zaara finally came to a fitting filmy end yesterday, when a city court acquitted them of all charges.

Hidayat Khan with his wife Banwa and their kids
Hidayat Khan with his wife Banwa and their kids

Reporting their case in July, mid-day had noted how the couple’s story had all the ingredients of a Bollywood movie and, sure enough, filmmakers have been lining up to meet them and be able to tell their tale on the silver screen.

On July 4, this newspaper had reported (‘Real life Veer-Zaara from Mumbai wait for a happy ending’) about Hidayat Khan, 37, a contractor from Navi Mumbai, who had fallen in love with Banwa, a Saudi Arabian national, while working in the country.

mid-day’s reports on July 4 and August 13
mid-day’s reports on July 4 and August 13

Also read: After nine years, Mumbai's Veer-Zaara get their day in court

He had smuggled Banwa into India in 2005 and the couple was arrested soon after, based on a complaint by Banwa’s family to the Saudi Arabian authorities. While the couple was released on bail and had four children Reenal (8), Riyam (6), Ridan (4) and Khulund, who is 15 months old in India, the fate of Banwa’s nationality was to be decided by the Indian judiciary.

This, despite the current Saudi Consul General, Abdullah Saliman Al Eisa, writing to the Mumbai police on June 23 to rescind the case and let Banwa live in India. The couple’s story had headed for climax last month, when they had their case heard for the first time at the 37th metropolitan magistrate court. On Wednesday, in a big relief for the couple, the court acquitted them of all charges.

Ecstatic
“This is the happiest moment of my life. I had sold everything to witness this day and it is time for celebrations. I thank the media, especially mid-day, for making this happen,” Khan said yesterday. Khan added, “Nine years is too long a time. I spent lakhs in legal fees, sold all my belongings and spent all the money that I had earned from my job in Saudi Arabia. I saw the worst days of my life between 2005 and 2008.

Thankfully, my wife was very supportive and stood by me through thick and thin. She survived on daal and roti to gather our legal expenses,” A visibly relieved Banwa said, “I have seen so many tough days in this court battle. I was arrested while I was pregnant and, in that condition, I had to climb the stairs of the court and stand with criminals.

My husband was also behind bars during my pregnancy. Allah ka karam hai (with God’s grace), we are finally done with the legal battle. My children will finally be able to meet their grand parents.” “After reading reports on us, some filmmakers approached me and showed interest in telling our story on the big screen.

But we have not been able to meet them,” Khan said. The couple was represented by advocates R F Lambay and Ashok Shahani. Speaking to mid-day Shahani said, “The court has rightly passed an order. This alleged offence took place beyond Indian territories.

At the time of the incident, the couple hardly knew what they were doing was a crime. The main accused in the case, Nooral, who had helped the couple make fake documents, is absconding. If he is arrested, a supplementary chargesheet will be filed.”