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Bets, not betting links

Mumbai, Sept. 14: Crorepati bar girl Tarannum Khan spoke out today, denying any links with the organised underworld and betting syndicates.

Tarannum, who lives in a lavish bungalow and drives a Honda City, however, admitted having placed bets on cricket matches. “I have already made a statement before the police, and also given them my phone book and passport if they wish to verify if I was in touch with anybody.”

She said the Rs 22 lakh in cash found at her Versova bungalow was her hard-earned money and not acquired by dubious means. “Dancers can earn that kind of money over the years. I had no idea that betting was an offence. A lot of people watching cricket bet for fun, and I did too on two or three matches,” she said, at times breaking into English.

Tarannum admitted that she had met a bookie called DJ who used to frequent Deepa Bar in Vile Parle where she worked as a dancer. “I want to know why the media have made such an issue of it. It is unfair to me and my family.”

Her mother, who has had to face TV crews camping outside the Tanishq bungalow and take a flurry of telephone calls, said: “The media have been here since morning. Now, I have started feeling unwell. The media have tortured us more than the police investigation has.”

Tarannum spoke to the media over the phone from an undisclosed destination on Carter Road, Bandra.

Mumbai police refused to react to Tarannum’s denials, and said they would continue to check her cellphone messages and calls and her passport, which they took away on Tuesday as a preventive measure against her fleeing Mumbai.

However, nearly four days after she was first questioned in connection with some text messages from bookies found in her cellphone, the police have yet to lodge a formal case.

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