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I am single & unmarried, Monica tells court

Hyderabad, Nov. 19: Samira yesterday, Monica today.

A day after Abu Salem’s first wife Samira Jumani spoke out from America that she “didn’t live with him a single married minute”, his eight-year companion Monica Bedi has declared that she is “single and unmarried”.

Dressed in a pretty pink salwar-kameez, sky blue dupatta covering her head, she told a CBI court her name was Monica Bedi but she didn’t have a husband to talk of.

“I am single and unmarried, I prefer to be called Miss Monica,” she told Justice P.V. Subramanyam, in whose court she was produced after two days in CBI custody.

With the statement, Monica, in jail in connection with a forged passport she used to accompany Salem to Portugal, has again distanced herself from the gangster as she has done a few times in the past.

“I regret meeting him' I implore the authorities to take into account that I am a person, I am not Abu Salem’s shadow,” a Portuguese newspaper had quoted her as saying.

She had also written to the Prime Minister and President last year in her own hand, expressing similar sentiments and claiming she hadn’t known what Salem was when she met him at a stage show in West Asia in 1997.

Salem’s lawyers in Mumbai refused comment on Monica’s statement. Advocate Owes A. Siddiqui, who had last week gone on record that “she has feelings for him”, said he had nothing to say.

“We have nothing to say,” one of his juniors said. “Her lawyer in Hyderabad is taking care of her case.”

CBI prosecutor T. Venkataramana, however, said: “We have enough records to prove she is Abu Salem’s wife. Her denial is of little significance.”

Monica was remanded in judicial custody till next Friday. She will continue to stay in Chanchalguda prison.

“But there is no need for any more interrogation by the CBI in this case,” Justice Subramanyam said. He rejected a CBI memo that she should not be given bail.

“Do not bring extraneous issues on record. The case is already delicate and sensitive,” the judge said when the CBI contended she would flee abroad if given bail.

Monica signed a court questionnaire on the treatment meted out to her in custody. “There has been no compulsion or pressurisation during the interrogation by the CBI,” her statement said.

CBI sources said Monica had not let on much during the 15-hour interrogation. “She provided us no specific dope on Salem,” an official who flew in from Mumbai said.

She will be produced in court again on Monday when her lawyer applies for bail.

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