The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Ramanis run to cop with grouse

New Delhi, March 20: Socialite Bina Ramani and her fashion-designer daughter Malini today met Delhi police commissioner K.K. Paul after coming under renewed glare in the Jessica Lal murder case.

The police have filed a fresh FIR accusing unnamed persons of destroying evidence ' a charge that has earlier been levelled at the Ramanis ' and have alerted airports that they might try to leave the country.

Bina owns the Tamarind Court Caf', where Jessica was shot dead during a party in April 1999. Both she and Malini were at the murder scene and are alleged to have later washed off the bloodstains.

Speaking to reporters after meeting Paul, Bina said: “There was no tampering of evidence'. The bullet was a one-way wound, there was very little blood.”

The Ramanis said they had come to meet the commissioner to protest against their names being included in the police’s “lookout” notices. Such notices ' supposed to be confidential ' are issued to airports asking them to inform the police if anyone named in the list tries to leave the country.

Delhi police had issued a lookout notice last week against all the accused in the case, key witnesses including the Ramanis, and police officers who may need to be questioned.

“The police have issued these lookout notices for us along with the accused and the witnesses who had turned hostile, and this was creating confusion,” Bina said. “We have nothing to hide and have given them full cooperation in the investigation.”

The commissioner explained that the notices were a precaution, but Bina protested: “We are the only witnesses who stood firm, but we didn’t hear anything from the police. We didn’t get any notice nor did any policeman knock at our door.”

Mother and daughter are, however, clearly feeling nervous after the new FIR was filed early this month to probe “destruction of, tampering with and fabrication of evidence” during the murder probe.

Defence lawyer R.K. Naseem had alleged that before the murder trial, the police had thought of charging the Ramanis with destruction of evidence but let them off when they agreed to testify.

In the courtroom, both the Ramanis identified prime accused Manu Sharma and confirmed his presence at the party, but didn’t say that they saw him shoot Jessica.

Police sources said the new FIR could pave the way for a fresh case of destruction of evidence against the Ramanis. Names would be added to the FIR when the chargesheets are prepared. The suspects could be subjected to brain-mapping ' a lie-detector test.

Bina claimed the commissioner had offered her police protection. She said she would accept it if required.

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