The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Silence reigns after phone cackle
- Salman quiet, Ash quiet, police quiet, politicians kick up furore

Mumbai, July 15: The star cast of Maine Phone Kyun Kiya has decided silence is the best policy in the circumstances. So have police.

The shouting brigade has stepped in, forcing cinemas to stop showing Salman Khan-starrer Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya in some places. Elsewhere, Mumbai included, the movie opened to full houses.

As fresh revelations from a purported taped conversation between Salman and Aishwarya Rai four years ago circulated in the media, political parties, mainly the BJP and its offshoots, and the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, hit the streets to protest against the actor’s alleged self-proclaimed link to the underworld.

In Mumbai, it helped the Sena divert attention from the Narayan Rane rebellion as the party carried the campaign against Salman also into the Assembly, with partner BJP joining in. There were demands for Salman’s arrest.

They got deputy chief minister R.R. Patil talking, too. He sought time till Wednesday to make a detailed statement, assuring the House that the police would investigate the case.

Aishwarya, at the receiving end of Salman’s wrath in the alleged conversation, kept quiet, killing off rumours that she would make a statement.

Girish Kulkarni, Aishwarya’s lawyer, said: “She would not like to make a comment at this juncture.”

Her secretary Hari Singh, who had promised a statement yesterday, said Aishwarya ' though in Mumbai ' would not speak.

Salman ducked out of a scheduled appearance at the premiere of Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya at Imax Adlabs last night, though his co-stars, including Sushmita Sen, were present.

His lawyer Dipesh Mehta dismissed reports that he had been summoned by the police for questioning. “It is a rumour. The tapes are completely fake, but irreparable damage has been done to Salman’s reputation,” he said.

Asked if he would take legal action, Mehta refused to comment.

In fresh purported transcripts and tapes played in the media, Salman was heard bad-mouthing colleagues Aamir Khan and Abhishek Bachchan. Aamir starred with Salman in the Rajkumar Santoshi-directed comedy Andaz Apna Apna ' in the conversation, he stars with Aishwarya in sexual acts, imagined or otherwise by Salman. Another female actor also figured in the conversation, with Salman claiming physical intimacy with her.

Abhishek and Salman had played together in the Revathi-directed Phir Milenge.

The entire group held its silence.

Rumours that Salman had voluntarily decided to make a statement before the police swirled through the day at the crime branch headquarters at Crawford Market. But stung by criticism in the Assembly and the fear that the House could move a privilege motion if they made any statement, Mumbai police clammed up.

Police commissioner Anami Roy was locked in meetings with top officials. Deputy commissioner Dhananjay Kamlakar refused to confirm or deny if either of the stars had been summoned for questioning.

Legal experts have already dismissed the tape and its contents as “unauthenticated” and, therefore, of no “legal consequence”.

In the Assembly, the Opposition objected to the statement by the police yesterday dismissing the matter. Roy had initially said the tapes were four years old and did not require investigation. Later, he was forced to make another statement, saying that his department would verify the tape.

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