Janvi Taurakhia, Sooraj Pancholi's former girlfriend, says she never encountered the violent abusive man who stands accused of abetting actress Jiah Khan's suicide. She has said Sooraj is the most gentle and soft-hearted person she has known.
Sooraj, son of Bollywood actor-couple Aditya Pancholi and Zarina Wahab, is in judicial custody till June 27 and lodged at the Arthur Road Central Jail.
Jiah committed suicide June 3. After a five-page letter by Jiah was recovered and handed over to the police, Sooraj was arrested June 10 on grounds that it was "incriminating" evidence against him as she had blamed him for various problems she faced during her lifetime. Bail was denied to the 22-year-old on June 21.
Even Janvi's mother Alpa Taurakhia vouches for Sooraj's innocence. For Janvi, who dated him for five years, "it's like reading and hearing about another person altogether".
"Of course, my heart goes out to Jiah's family. But I couldn't believe they were talking about Sooraj! This Sooraj who is supposed to have done these awful things to that poor girl is not the Sooraj I know," said Janvi.
"My Sooraj is incapable of violence against anyone. He hates any kind of confrontation. Whenever we fought, I was the one who was more aggressive. He would quietly leave the room. If he's angry or upset, he likes to be on his own to work his way out of the problem," she added.
Although they broke up, Janvi says she is still best of friends with Sooraj even today.
"And not just Sooraj. I am very fond of Aditya uncle and Zarina aunty. They are like family to me and my mother," she said.
Asked if Sooraj ever ill-treated her, Janvi said: 'No! Never! Do you think I'd have been with him for nearly six years if he ever did anything like that? When I read the news accusing him of physical abuse and what not, I was too shocked for words. Sooraj can never behave like this."
Defending her former boyfriend, she went on to say: "Sooraj's biggest weakness is his over-emotional nature. He gets upset by any hint of unpleasantness. To inflict pain or violence is unthinkable for him. He is one of the most soft-hearted souls I know."
Janvi is appalled at the thought of Sooraj spending time in jail. "I can't even begin to imagine how he is coping with all this. He may look very macho, but he is a baby inside."
She also said: "I don't think Sooraj had any inkling of what Jiah was going to do. Knowing him the way I do, he would have never allowed it. It's very unfortunate that he's caught in this situation. I just can't stop thinking of how he must be coping."
Even Janvi's mother Alpa Taurakhia vouches for Sooraj's innocence.
"He is a darling, an absolute lamb who wouldn't hurt a fly. And I say this, although my daughter and Sooraj had split, and I really have no reason to defend him," she said.