Mumbai Police on Tuesday recorded the statement of Bollywood actress Preity Zinta in connection with the molestation case she has registered against her former boyfriend and industrialist Ness Wadia.
The actress accompanied by her lawyer reached the Wankhede Stadium in south Mumbai at about 6.40 pm, where tight security arrangements were made by the police to handle the media and the crowd of onlookers.
Marine Drive police recorded her statement, for more than one and half hours, with regard to the case while crime branch recorded her statement in connection with the threat calls received by Wadia's secretaries, allegedly from gangster Ravi Pujari.
She recorded the statement at BCCI office on the stadium premises till 8.20 pm. Later, for about 20 minutes, she also helped the police to reconstruct the sequence of events inside the stadium that led to the alleged incident, for the purpose of the probe.
The actress was forthcoming in her replies, said an officer privy to the investigation.
Investigators sought to know from the 39-year-old co-owner of Kings XI Punjab the exact spot where the alleged incident took place, and who were around at the time.
In her written complaint to police, Zinta has claimed that "I left for my seat, but he (Ness) came up to me at my seat and started screaming and abusing me in front of everyone".
"We want to know where she was sitting and who were these 'everyone' she is referring to," the officer said.
According to police, Preity had mentioned three arguments with Wadia in her complaint at three different places inside the Wankhede stadium on May 30. During one of them, the alleged molestation took place.
Police sought answers from her to figure out these three locations, who may have spotted them while arguing, and what was the trigger for the spat.
Police also asked her about the emails she had exchanged with Wadia before May 30 which had a sense of argument between the two.
"Police also asked about seat-sharing details at Garware pavilion on the day of the incident. It was Wadia's birthday on May 30. Preity provided details of how many seats she and her friends occupied and how many Ness had booked for him, his family and friends," said the officer.
Meanwhile, Mumbai Police's crime branch asked the actress if she knew anybody by the name Ravi Pujari and whether she had ever spoken to him.
Investigators had earlier indicated that Wadia would be called for questioning only after Zinta's statement was recorded.
Zinta filed a police complaint on June 12 alleging Wadia outraged her modesty at the stadium on May 30 during the IPL match between Kings XI Punjab and Chennai Super Kings. Wadia said the allegation was "false and baseless".
Next day she left for the United States and returned on Sunday last.
Zinta and Wadia ended their relationship a few years ago but continued to share business interest.
Several players of Kings XI Punjab, its support staff and officials of Wankhede Stadium were claimed to have been present when the alleged incident took place.
Marine Drive Police registered an FIR against Wadia under IPC Sections 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman).
Police have so far recorded the statements of seven persons, including Indian Premier League COO Sundar Raman and BCCI Secretary Sanjay Patel, in connection with the case.
Mumbai crime branch, on the other hand, is probing the threat phone calls and a text message received by two personal secretaries of Wadia Group on June 16 from a man claiming to be the fugitive gangster Ravi Pujari. The caller warned their "business will be in trouble" if the actress is harassed.
Image: Preity Zinta arrives at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium on Tuesday evening
Photograph: Sahil Salvi/Rediff.com