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Arrest Richard Gere, orders Indian court

Cuffs readied after Shilpa Shetty kiss outrage

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An Indian court has issued arrest warrants for Richard Gere and Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty, Reuters reports.

The Jaipur court's action came in response to a complaint by local lawyer Poonam Chand Bhandari regarding Gere's "repeated kisses on Shetty's cheeks at an event to promote AIDS awareness in New Delhi" earlier this month.

The public show of affection sparked outrage among some Hindu groups who considered it "an outrage against her modesty and an affront to Indian culture", and duly "burned and kicked straw effigies of Gere and Shetty" in protests across India.

The Jaipur judge watched a video of the offending kisses, and promptly found Gere "guilty of violating Indian laws against public obscenity". He ordered Gere arrested and Shetty to attend court on 5 May. Since Gere is not in the country, he will avoid the possible three months' jail and/or fine for the offence, although he can be cuffed if he ever darkens India's doors again.

Shetty, who became something of a local celeb following the Celebrity Big Brother racism rumpus, admitted the kiss may have gone a "little overboard", but said she and Gere were simply re-enacting his moves from the film Shall We Dance to "entertain the audience at the AIDS event and communicate in a Bollywood style as he did not speak Hindi".

Shetty insisted the routine was not obscene and that the protests "made India look regressive". ®

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