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11 MNS workers held for 'extortion'

Last updated on: March 16, 2010 12:39 IST

Eleven Maharashtra Navnirman Sena activists were arrested on Monday, on charges of extorting Rs 27 lakh from a film producer on the pretext of using foreigners instead of locals in a shoot but the party denied it had indulged in such act.

Later, the activists were produced before a magistrate in Bandra and granted bail for surety of Rs 3,000 each. The workers entered Mehboob Studios in suburban Bandra on Sunday evening where shooting of Ritesh Sadhwani's film Crooked was in progress and demanded that priority be given to locals instead of foreigners, Deputy Police Commissioner K Prasanna said.

According to the complaint, Sadhwani explained the scene was about a place in Istanbul which required inclusion of foreigners. He also assured MNS workers that they would employ locals whenever the situation demanded. However, the MNS workers did not relent and demanded Rs 27 lakh, the complaint lodged by the film unit alleged.

Meanwhile, MNS denied that its workers had attempted to extort money from Sadhwani. Amey Khopkar, president of MNS Cine Workers' Association, told PTI that 11 MNS activists had gone to the studio to check if the film unit had hired foreigners without valid papers.

"Our boys found a large number of Afghans, Russians and Iranians on the sets. They inquired if the foreigners had valid documents to work and if the local police were informed. Sensing that they could be in trouble, the producers levelled allegation of extortion," Khopkar claimed. He said the MNS had no issues with foreigners working in the film as per the script's requirements. "Hiring foreigners without valid documents could pose danger to the security," Khopkar said.

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