High drama was witnessed at the Police Headquarters in New Delhi yesterday when a criminal arrested in connection with cases of kidnapping and robbery claimed that he wanted to kill Bollywood damsel Mallika Sherawat.
Rajesh Dalal, who was carrying a reward of Rs 25,000 on his head and evading the Delhi Police dragnet for the last two months, was arrested in Maharashtra's Sangli district by the inter-state cell of the Crime Branch.
Police have been on his trail for cases like attempt to murder, kidnapping, criminal intimidation, assault on police officials and escape from custody, prompting him to flee the capital.
Senior police officials claimed that his arrest from the remote village of Jaisinhpur, around 40 km from Kolhapur, was a major success, but they were in for a surprise when they paraded him before the media at the police headquarters.
On seeing the cameraman, he started shouting that he went to Maharashtra to kill actress Mallika Sherawat, whom he said has hurt the sensibilities of Haryana and the Jat community of which she is a member.
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Police, however, rubbished his claims, saying he was doing this for cheap publicity. "Now that he is caught, he is trying to divert attention from his cases," Deputy Commissioner of Police (Special Cell) Neeraj Thakur said.
A resident of Nangloi in West Delhi, the Commerce graduate began his criminal life by kidnapping his estranged wife in 1999. He is accused in several kidnapping cases, robbery of a petrol pump manager and attack on policemen.
He has been living in Sangli under the guise of a computer graphics engineer, police said.
When Mallika was contacted, she said , "Death threats do not scare me but I do want to make one thing clear that it is not my intention to upset or offend the sensitivity and sensibility of my people. I respect our culture and traditions.
However, I do feel that women should be empowered and have the ability to stand on their own feet and earn a living and make their own career, which is what I am trying to do."