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Nagma warms to hot seat
- CBI lines up D-Company quiz, actor game for questions

April 2: Film actor Nagma today said she would be 'happy to cooperate' with the CBI if the bureau calls her for questioning in connection with the alleged nexus between the gutka industry and the Karachi-based underworld.

'I will, of course, be happy to cooperate with the CBI if they summon me. At least, it will settle the issue once and for all that I am not involved in this. The law must take its own course and I will comply if required. So far, I have not received any communication from the CBI, though,' she told The Telegraph.

CBI director Uma Shankar Misra told reporters in Delhi that the agency would question Nagma in connection with the confession made by an accused in the case. 'After all, this questioning is for their benefit only as they would also like to come out clean in the case,' Mishra said.

The confession, by Dawood Ibrahim's henchman Jamiruddin Ansari alias Jumbo in October 2004 before Mumbai police, revealed he delivered Rs 10 lakh on behalf of Dawood's brother Anees Ibrahim to 'actress Nagma' at her apartment in Bandra.

Jumbo's confessions revealed the alleged links between the gutka industry and the underworld. He told the police he had helped Dawood's gang ship equipment for manufacturing and packaging gutka to Karachi via Dubai.

Jumbo also alleged that Rasiklal Dhariwal and Jagdish Joshi, owners of the Manikchand and Goa brands, had travelled to Karachi to seek Dawood's intervention in a business dispute.

In return for the mediation, Dawood sought their assistance in launching a gutka business of his own in Pakistan. He subsequently launched the 'Fire' brand in Pakistan.

Nagma has denied the allegations or having known Jumbo. She also denied that she helped Joshi's son Sachin launch a film career in the Telugu industry. The actor, who last starred in Anil Sharma's war film Ab Tumhare Hawale Watan Sarthiyon, said the allegations were 'politically motivated to tarnish my political career'. Nagma had campaigned for the Congress in the Andhra Pradesh and Jharkhand elections.

The actor, who has launched an NGO, Jagruti, to provide legal aid to women and children, said: 'I realise after this present episode how important is legal aid for women. If a statement from a lay person can cause so much distress to a person like me, what about hapless women who need legal help.'

Although Nagma's name figured in Jumbo's confessional statement, the police never summoned her for questioning. Nor did the police probe into which 'actress Nagma' Jumbo was referring to.

Police records show that a small-time actress called Nagma did exist in the Indian film industry whose mother Tabassum Khan was arrested for alleged links with the Dawood gang. Khan was booked under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act in January 2002 based on a telephone intercept of her conversation with Dawood's aide Chhota Shakeel.

With the arrival of Dhariwal on Thursday night, investigations into the gutka-underworld nexus case are likely to speed up. Dhariwal attended his corporate office in Pune on Friday but refused to make any statement. 'I will speak to the media only after I present myself before the CBI according to Supreme Court directives on Monday,' he told reporters.

When contacted, officials with the CBI, Mumbai, denied they would question Dhariwal. 'The Delhi unit is doing the investigations. We have no plans to question Dhariwal. The CBI usually does not arrest a person if he is cooperating with the investigations. Dhariwal has already said he would travel to Delhi on Monday and meet the investigating officers,' said an officer at the CBI headquarters in Mumbai.

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