| Shilpa: Helping ‘innocent dad’
Mumbai, May 17: Actress Shilpa Shetty’s father Surendra Shetty has succeeded in getting anticipatory bail in an extortion case, but police sources say Bollywood’s latest tale of grime and goons is bound to get murkier.
Shetty, against whom the Surat-based Praful Saris lodged the case at the Umra police station in the Gujarat town, was granted bail by a sessions court here. But the judge, who released him on a bail of Rs 40,000, told Shetty to appear before a Surat court to seek regular bail on or before May 28.
Shetty and his wife Sunanda, along with four members of the Fazlur Rehman gang, have been charged under Sections 386 and 387 (extortion and threat) of the Indian Penal Code. Rehman, a feared name in Gujarat, operates from Malaysia and is known for targeting industrialists for extortion.
With arrest warrants dispatched in her father’s name, Shilpa made some frantic calls to senior Mumbai police officials from Johannesburg, where she had gone to participate at the India International Film Academy awards, to “help out” her “innocent dad”.
“Yes, she had called but it was just to seek advice,” said a senior official, confirming that the actress had called up some top officers. “She firmly believes her father is innocent.”
But Surat police have a different story to tell. They say they have enough evidence against Shetty to prove that he took the help of the underworld to recover some payments from Pankaj Agarwal, owner of Praful Saris.
The public prosecutor in the case, R.. Kini, said calls from the underworld did come to Agarwal, from whom Shetty was reportedly demanding Rs 2 crore as outstanding fees for an advertisement Shilpa had done for the sari company in 1997.
“Pay up and the calls will stop,” Agarwal was told when he contacted Shetty about the threats, Kini said.
Agarwal’s deposition is equally incriminating. He said that after Shilpa, then a starlet, did the TV spot in 1997, the sari company paid her Rs 22 lakh. He added that it was only about 10 months ago that her father and mother called him up demanding Rs 2 crore.
“I refused to pay up as I had cleared all my dues,” Agarwal said. “Then I started getting the calls which said ‘Shilpa ka mamla nipta de nahi to tapka dalenge (Resolve the payment issue or we will bump you off)’.”
Agarwal further claims that after lengthy discussions with Dinesh Shetty, a member of the Rehman gang, he settled the issue a fortnight ago by giving the gangster Rs 3 lakh. It was after Dinesh had received the payment — and he was arrested by Mumbai police last Tuesday in a different case — that the gangster spilled the beans on Shetty during interrogation.
Police sources said there seemed to be no written agreement on how long the advertisement would be run and that Shetty may have demanded the money after Shilpa became a big star. The sari commercials were aired till 2002.