Preity-Ness case: Zinta names 14 witnesses

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: Preity Zinta recorded her statement at Wankhede stadium with Mumbai police on Tuesday evening regarding the complaint that she had filed against her former boyfriend Ness Wadia. The police had asked the actress to be present at the stadium for spot identification Tuesday.

Marine Drive Police recorded her statement, for more than one and half hours, with regard to the case while crime branch recorded her statement in connection with the threat calls received by Wadia's secretaries, allegedly from gangster Ravi Pujari.

She recorded the statement at BCCI office on the stadium premises till 8.20 PM. Later, for about 20 minutes, she also helped the police to reconstruct the sequence of events inside the stadium that led to the alleged incident, for the purpose of the probe.

The actress was forthcoming in her replies, said an officer privy to the investigation.

Investigators sought to know from the 39-year-old co-owner of Kings XI Punjab the exact spot where the alleged incident took place, and who were around at the time.

In her written complaint to police, Zinta has claimed that "I left for my seat, but he (Ness) came up to me at my seat and started screaming and abusing me in front of everyone".

"We want to know where she was sitting and who were these 'everyone' she is referring to," the officer said.

According to police, Preity had mentioned three arguments with Wadia in her complaint at three different places inside the Wankhede Stadium on May 30.

During one of them, the alleged molestation took place.

Police sought answers from her to figure out these three locations, who may have spotted them while arguing, and what was the trigger for the spat.

Police also asked her about the emails she had exchanged with Wadia before May 30 which had a sense of argument between the two.

"Police also asked about seat-sharing details at Garware pavilion on the day of the incident. It was Wadia's birthday on May 30. Preity provided details of how many seats she and her friends occupied and how many Ness had booked for him, his family and friends," said the officer.

Meanwhile, Mumbai Police's crime branch asked the actress if she knew anybody by the name Ravi Pujari and whether she had ever spoken to him.

Zinta reportedly named 14 witnesses in connection with the complaint filed by her. The police will now record the statements of the four witnesses named by Preity Zinta. According to reports, the actress has also identified three places in the stadium where she was allegedly abused -- Below AC box, near the railing of the pavilion and the ground.

Preity returned to the country on Sunday morning from the US, as the police had asked her to re-record her statement to get a better clarity of the entire incident.

She had lodged a complaint with the Mumbai Police against business partner Ness Wadia accusing him of public humiliation and abusive behaviour during an Indian Premier League match on May 30 at stadium in south Mumbai. However, Wadia had said the allegation was "false and baseless".

Several players of Kings XI Punjab, its support staff and officials of Wankhede Stadium were claimed to have been present when the alleged incident took place.

Following the actress` complaint, an FIR was registered against the Bombay Dyeing heir under IPC Sections 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) and 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman).

Investigators had earlier indicated that Wadia would be called for questioning only after Zinta's statement was recorded. Zinta and Wadia ended their relationship a few years ago but continued to share business interest.

Police have so far recorded the statements of seven persons, including Indian Premier League COO Sundar Raman and BCCI Secretary Sanjay Patel, in connection with the case.

Crime Branch, on the other hand, is probing the threat phone calls and a text message received by two personal secretaries of Wadia Group on June 16, from a man claiming to be the fugitive gangster Ravi Pujari. The caller warned their "business will be in trouble" if the actress is harassed.

(With PTI inputs)

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