Manu in self-imposed isolation
The main accused in Jessica Lall case is not wanted even in his own hometown.india Updated: Mar 03, 2006 19:55 IST
He might be among the richest men here and the son of a powerful Haryana minister.
But that doesn't seem to be making Manu Sharma -- main accused in model Jessica Lal's murder -- feel wanted in his own hometown.
Acquitted nearly 10 days ago by a Delhi court in the 1999 murder case along with eight other accused, Manu has been in "self-imposed" hiding ever since.
Much of that is to avoid the media glare, as the judgment has been roundly questioned across India.
But the public also seems to be isolating Manu aka Siddharth Vashishtha.
Hundreds of mobile users in Chandigarh received SMSs asking them not to visit or use any of the night clubs, restaurants, hotels, theatres and other facilities that he and his family own in the city.
The SMS says the boycott of these facilities owned by Manu and his family would show solidarity with the nationwide outrage over Jessica Lal's alleged murderer getting away scot-free.
The family has multi-million rupee business interests in hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, two sugar mills (one each in Punjab and Haryana), housing colonies and orchards.
These businesses are spread across Chandigarh, New Delhi, Manali, Lucknow and other places.
Many city youngsters are keeping away from Blue Ice -- a nightclub and bar owned and run by Manu in the city's main commercial hub, Sector 17.
Following apprehensions that he had gone abroad after the controversial judgment and the possibility of the case being reopened, Manu has now come out with a statement saying he is very much in India and is busy with the family's sugar business.
His father Vinod Sharma, Haryana's power and public works minister and a close confidant of Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, himself has been inaccessible ever since the judgement.
Sharma missed the Hooda cabinet meeting in Chandigarh on Tuesday.
When the chief minister was asked by journalists where the minister was, an irritated Hooda said he was not keeping tabs on his minister.
Efforts to contact minister Sharma at his office and residence were met with the stock reply that he was out of town.
To keep his movements secret, Manu has not been in touch with any of his close friends, with whom he had been moving around and partying in recent months after his release on bail in the murder case.
He came to the nightclub and met friends and staff members briefly in the wee hours of the morning of February 24.
Officials at Manu's family-owned sugar mills in Indri in Haryana and Patran near Patiala in Punjab said he had visited the facilities in the last three to four days.