The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Extortion charges lasso Shilpa parents

Ahmedabad, Nov. 5: Surat police today filed a chargesheet against Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty’s parents, Surendra and Sunanda Shetty, in an alleged extortion case.

The actress’ parents had allegedly hired an underworld gangster, Fazlur Rehman, to extort money from Pankaj Agarwal, the owner of Prafful Sarees.

The money, the Shettys claimed, was due to Shilpa for an ad film she had done for Agarwal’s firm in 1998.

The 220-page chargesheet, filed with chief judicial magistrate R.P. Mehta, named three others — Shilpa’s driver Dilip Palsekar, Dinesh Narayan Rao and hotelier Padmanabhan Kotiyam.

Police submitted 36 documents including audio cassettes and voice reports of Shilpa’s parents’ conversations to establish that they had hired Rehman for the extortion.

The accused face charges under Sections 385, 386, 387 , 34 and 120 (B) of the Indian Penal Code.

Rehman has been declared absconding accused with two others — Ashraf alias Uday Shetty and Babloo.

The Shettys were earlier granted conditional bail.

The police alleged that the accused had links with the underworld and had demanded Rs 2 crore from Agarwal.

The case, on the other hand, has seen a twist with the involvement of controversial BJP MLA and former minister Purshottam Solanki and his brother, Hirabhai, also an MLA. The police have made the Solanki brothers witnesses.

Purshottam faces several criminal charges in Mumbai and is known for his dubious past.

His name had figured in the Srikrishna Commission report for his alleged involvement in the Mumbai riots.

As a minister in the Keshubhai Patel state cabinet, Purshottam had locked horns with then state home minister Haren Pandya.

Two other important links in this case are Maharashtra Nationalist Congress Party leaders Janak Kesaria and Anil Bisharia, who are among the 24 witnesses.

The police, who pieced together accounts based on the interrogation of witnesses, have concluded that the Shettys first approached the two NCP leaders. Through them they tried to contact Purshottam. They wanted him to do the extortionist’s job that Rehman did later. But Purshottam turned them away and has now chosen to be a witness.

After he refused, the Shettys contacted Rehman.

Soon, Agarwal started receiving threats from the Mumbai underworld.

After Agarwal lodged his complaint against the Shettys on May 1, the police traced the caller to Mumbai and arrested Imran, alias Dinesh Shetty, a member of Rehman’s gang.

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