Police on Monday seized the passport of Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik as they questioned him in the wake of a complaint lodged against him by the father of a local girl Ayesha Siddiqui.
But 28-year-old Shoaib told police, at the Jubilee Hills residence of 23-year-old tennis star Sania Mirza, that he had been tricked into marriage with Ayesha.
"The city police have questioned Shoaib Malik for one-and-a-half hours and they have also seized his passport. Immigration authorities have been informed about the case filed against Malik and his passport seizure," Additional Commissioner of Police (Coordination) Dwarka Tirumala Rao said.
Rao said, "As part of the investigation, a police team visited Sania's residence today. We are probing the matter."
"We are trying to collect evidence. Shoaib is cooperating and Sania is supporting him. They say they know the truth behind the whole issue," a police official said after the team talked to the cricketer.
During questioning, Shoaib told the police that he had been "cheated" by the Siddiqui family and tricked into marriage, he said.
Ayesha also accused Malik of trying to buy her silence for $1 million, muddying the waters ahead of the April 15 marriage of Sania and Shoaib.
Hyderabad Police Commissioner A K Khan said Shoaib would not be allowed to leave India without police permission.
"We have alerted all immigration gateways not to allow Shoaib to leave," he said.
This followed a complaint filed by M.A. Siddiqui, Ayesha's father, under sections 498 A (harassment), 420 (cheating) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.
The police registered an First Information Report (FIR) on the complaint.
On his part, the cricketer issued a statement claiming that no 'nikah' (marriage) took place with Ayesha and hence there was no need for him to divorce her before marrying Sania.
Ayesha also said Shoaib was threatening her for speaking to the media.
Police may record Ayesha's statement for the case against Shoaib, who is staying at Sania Mirza's house here.
Ayesha told a television channel that she hated Shoaib with passion and said she was determined to see him punished for cheating her.
The Pakistani batsman accused Ayesha of emotionally forcing him into the marriage but quoted Muslim religious leaders to say that the marriage was not valid as he had signed 'nikahnama' believing that he was marrying the girl whose photographs were sent to him by Ayesha but who turned out to be someone else.
He also accused Ayesha of posing as Maha Apa, her elder sister, whose photographs were sent to him and fooled him for five years. Shoaib said neither he or his brother-in-law could never meet Ayesha during their visits to Hyderabad.
Shoaib claimed that Ayesha had starting making phone calls to him in 2001 when he was in Sharjah with the Pakistani team.
"Naturally I wanted to meet her. Every time I brought up the topic of meeting, she would send me a bunch of photographs," the statement said.
The cricketer claimed that he was made to believe that he was speaking to the girl in the photograph. "The truth is that I have, to this day, not met the girl in the photograph," he said.
Shoaib said in 2002, Ayesha forced him into marriage over telephone saying people in Hyderabad had started talking about their relationship and this had put her parents in an embarrassing position.
"We accidentally ran into the truth about who Ayesha was," he said.
"It happened in August 2005. My brother-in-law got a photograph of a teacher in Saudi Arabia who was telling people around her that Shoaib was married to her. I was aghast when he showed me the photograph of the teacher. The woman in the photograph was the woman I called Maha Apa."
A nervous-looking Shoaib told reporters that the marriage with Sania would take place in Hyderabad on April 15. "I have come here for my wedding with Sania Mirza and we are happy," he said. Shoaib said Sania knew the truth and she had been supportive of him.
To a query about Sania's tennis career, he said she would play as long as she wished to play. "She has been representing India and will continue to represent India," he said to another query. (With IANS input)