The Marine Drive police on Tuesday recorded the statement of actor Preity Zinta in the molestation case registered by her against her former boyfriend and industrialist Ness Wadia, and also reconstructed the sequence of events that unfolded on May 30 at Wankhede Stadium.
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A file photo of actress Preity Zinta and Kings XI Punjab co-owner Ness Wadia. (AP photo)
During the reconstruction process at Wankhede, which took over an hour and a half, a team of Mumbai crime branch officials also met Zinta to seek details on the alleged threat calls and a text message sent by fugitive gangster Ravi Pujari to a personal assistant of industrialist Nusli Wadia. The message allegedly asked the Wadias not to trouble Zinta.
The actor left her residence at 5.45pm and arrived at the stadium’s Polly Umrigar Gate at around 6.40pm in a Lexus car. The crowd of onlookers and media present at the spot forced her to wait in the car for a few minutes amidst heavy police deployment.
She then entered the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) office at Wankhede along with her lawyer to present herself before the police.
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A team of local police officials along with those from the crime branch began recording her statement, which went on till 8.20pm. Police said the actor was cooperative during questioning. After the statement was recorded, she along with the police officers went inside the stadium where a 'spot panchnama' was conducted.
The actor identified three spots where she was allegedly abused verbally by Wadia. At one of these three spots, Wadia allegedly pulled her by the arm. She also showed the seat occupied by her on May 30, police said. She left the stadium at around 8.45pm.
“We have recorded Zinta’s statement and have also followed the procedure to establish the alleged incident at the stadium,” said Ravindra Shisve, deputy commissioner of police, zone I.
Police said she corroborated the statements she had given in the form of a written complaint to police on June 12. An officer said her statement is detailed and may prove troublesome for Wadia.
Read: Don’t dismiss Preity Ness case as a tiff
The actor named five key witnesses and 10 others. One of them has been identified as Jean, who was the actor’s guest. “Jean intervened in the verbal spat and tried to stop Wadia when he was allegedly pulling the actor. Jean is abroad and we would call him for recording his statement soon,” said a senior officer.
The others are a woman named Tara, a team management staffer, Kings XI Punjab chief operating officer Fraser Castellino, one of the foreign players of the team, and a builder Danish Merchant, owner of Ace Construction, who stays in the same building as Zinta.
On being asked when Wadia would be called for questioning, Shivse refused to comment. Police have so far recorded statements of eight people in connection with the case.
Police sources said Zinta told them Wadia started the spat over the issue of occupying seats, but alleged it was an excuse to harass her publicly.
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For the match, 35 air-conditioned seats and 50 general seats were reserved for the Kings XI Punjab team, whose co-owners are Wadia and Zinta. Sources said the verbal spat started after Wadia allegedly found the actor and her guests were occupying seats that were meant for him and his mother Maureen. They added Wadia was angry as he saw his mother standing for around 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, the crime branch remained tight-lipped about the development.
“We did speak to the actor to seek details of something we wanted. Nothing more can be revealed at the moment,” said a senior crime branch officer.