Holding a photograph of his wife, Ishara, Gangaparsad Lutchman is in despair while he waits for her to be allowed to return from India where she was arrested at the airport when a bullet was found in her luggage. Photo: SHAN PILLAY


Durban - Feeling weak and struggling to cope, Gangaparsad “Spaga” Lutchman, 66, has been fighting emotional exhaustion since his wife was arrested at an Indian airport after a 9mm bullet was found in her luggage a week ago.


Lutchman’s wife, Ishara, was arrested at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport last Wednesday after staff found the bullet in her luggage. She was charged with contravening the country’s Arms Act.

Ishara, her sister and brother-in-law were en route to their ultimate destination, the Himalayas, having spent two stopover days sightseeing in Delhi. They had left Durban on Sunday, February 16, via Joburg and Dubai.

Speaking to The Mercury on Tuesday from his Pietermaritzburg home and business, a dog parlour and pet shop, Lutchman said he did not know how the bullet came to be in her bag.

He said had it been in her bag from the start of her trip, it would have been picked up at one of the other airports first.

“I think someone may have planted it,” he said wearily.

“She has never carried guns or bullets.”

After being arrested, 62-year-old Ishara, who is a nurse at St Anne’s Hospital, was kept in a cell at the airport before being taken to prison. She was kept there for four days in what Lutchman described as “terrible conditions. She had not been able to bath, and she only got a slice of bread and tea.”

Lutchman said the family, via a friend, Rumen Maistry, who is also an advocate and police captain, liaised with the South African High Commission in India to get legal aid for Ishara. Eventually, a local advocate was appointed to represent her, and she was granted bail on Friday. However, by that time the bail offices were closed and, after securing bail on Saturday morning, Ishara was only released from prison in the evening.

She is currently staying in a hotel. Her passport has been confiscated.

“She has been crying. She just wants to come home… We do so much charity work here, we feed schools and homes. The whole community is supporting us.”

Tearily, he added: “I am weak, I feel terrible. I have problems with my heart and blood pressure… We have been married for 45 years.”

On Tuesday night, Maistry and Ishara’s son were due to leave South Africa for India.

Ishara will appear in court on Friday.

Maistry said: “We are going to make a superdari application in which we will request that her passport be released to her and that she be granted permission to leave India.

“We are going to ask that the matter be discharged.

“She does not own a firearm, has no previous convictions or firearm-related offences. She is a law abiding citizen.

“There are endless possibilities on how the bullet could have ended up in her bag. And it was only one bullet, what could she have done with that?”

Maistry said he was hoping that the family’s success so far in getting Ishara out of prison would continue so she could return home.

“I think there is a good chance we can get the matter discharged if they take the circumstances into account.”

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The Mercury