The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Star daughter fears Rizwanur replay
Delhi court grants police protection

New Delhi, Oct. 22: Rizwanur Rahman’s fate on her lips, superstar Chiranjeevi’s daughter and her husband made a dramatic appearance in Delhi High Court today and sought protection.

Srija, 19, appealed for the court’s help this morning, saying she feared a repeat of the Calcutta case, in which industrialist Ashok Todi, Rizwanur’s father-in-law, has been named in an FIR that for the time being treats the young graphic designer’s death as murder.

Srija and Shirish Bhardwaj, 22, who had married against their families’ wishes in Hyderabad on Wednesday and gone underground, surfaced before the high court today.

“The couple came to the capital, changing several cars on the way to save themselves,” Srija’s counsel Pinky Anand told the chief justice, pressing for an urgent hearing.

The court asked police to extend immediate protection to the newly-weds, though Chiranjeevi’s lawyer Maninder Singh kept assuring the judge that there was no threat to the couple.

The actor had also made a public statement on TV blessing his daughter, Singh said.

“Delhi police would be kept informed by the petitioners (Srija and Shirish) about their residential address in the capital. The police shall give necessary protection so that their lives face no danger,” Chief Justice S.N. Dhingra said.

The court then adjourned the matter till October 29 to allow Chiranjeevi time to reply to the allegations.

In her petition, Srija said she had married a Brahmin at an Arya Samaj temple, which her family, belonging to the Kapu caste, did not approve of.

Anand said Srija, a chartered accountancy student, also wanted protection against any old case that may be reopened or new ones that might be filed against the couple to intimidate them. “There are reports in a section of the media about some cases pending against Shirish.”

Newspapers have claimed that Chiranjeevi had opposed the marriage because of Shirish’s involvement in an earlier case. The engineering graduate had reportedly eloped with a minor girl in 2002. A case of kidnapping was registered, but the charges were eventually dropped after the girl’s family backed out.

Shirish today rubbished the charge. “All allegations are false. I don’t know why an old case is being linked to my marriage now,” he said.

Chiranjeevi’s younger brother Pavan Kalyan said there was “absolutely no threat” to the couple’s lives from the family. “We neither have any idea about their whereabouts nor are we searching for them,” Kalyan, also an actor, told reporters in Hyderabad.

He also surrendered his revolver at the Jubilee Hills police station. “I am surrendering the weapon so that there is no scope for any misunderstanding. We wish Srija a happy life wherever she is,” he said.

Kalyan advised the newly-weds not to waste the police’s time “as law-enforcing agencies have more important things to do”.

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