Life behind bars has not dimmed underworld don Abu Salem's attraction towards actress and former lover Monica Bedi as on Wednesday, he once again publicly said that she was his wife, a claim which has been refuted by her on several occasions. <b1>
"Monica Bedi is my wife," said the gangster, who has been in jail for three years, while coming out of a Delhi court.
Just when Salem, sporting a black shirt and blue jeans, stepped out of the court mediapersons asked him questions about Bedi and the don, who usually deflects queries, obliged by reiterating that the two were husband and wife.
Salem's claim in public about the alleged relationship between the two comes in the backdrop of the actress' earlier attempts to refute the don's stand that the two were married.
The don had been brought to the court of Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Kaveri Baweja here by Mumbai Police for a hearing in connection with an alleged extortion call made to a businessman six years ago.
Earlier, Bedi in her interviews had said that although she knew Salem for several years they had never got married.
Salem and Bedi's friendship has also seen some legal drama earlier. He had served a legal notice on Bedi saying that he was "deeply hurt" and "distressed" by her statements denying their marriage.
In his notice, he had claimed that the duo got married in a mosque at Los Angeles in November 2000. Salem had said that his anguish has been "multiplied manifold" since he was unable to communicate with Bedi.
Salem has been lodged at the Arthur road jail in Central Mumbai, ever since his deportation from Portugal in November 2005.
The don had claimed in the notice that he had always actively encouraged and supported Bedi's acting career and if their marriage was causing her any hardship in that regard then he was willing to "move out of her life and divorce her".
In an emotional vein, the notice had said that Salem's "love for Bedi shall never diminish or fade away even if she desired to split up or sever their marital ties."
The don had said that if Bedi wanted divorce then she could convey the same to him in writing and he would "though heart-broken, soulfully pronounce a `talaq' (divorce)".
Salem is facing trial in eight cases registered in different parts of the country, including 1993 serial bomb blasts in Mumbai, murder of builder Pradeep Sharma in 1995 and murder of actor Manisha Koirala's secretary Ajit Deewani in 2002.