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Preity visits Wankhede for statement
Actor reconstructs ‘crime’

Mumbai, June 24: After much to and fro with Mumbai police through the day, Preity Zinta finally had her statement against ex-boyfriend Ness Wadia recorded at the Wankhede Stadium in the evening.

The police are now expected to call Ness for questioning on Preity’s charge that he outraged her modesty during a spat at the stadium on the sidelines of an IPL match on May 30.

The actor had filed the complaint against the Bombay Dyeing scion and fellow co-owner of IPL franchise Kings XI Punjab on June 11 before flying off to the US hours later. She returned on Sunday.

“Preity is seeking a restraining order from the police against Ness at this point,” her lawyer Hitesh Jain said.

For most of the day, Preity stayed cooped up in her sea-facing Quantum Park apartment in Bandra-Khar (West), unwilling to join the spot panchanama that the police were to conduct at the “scene of the incident” as mandated by law.

“A spot panchanama is a survey of the crime spot by a police officer along with the complainant and in the presence of a few witnesses,” an officer said.

Lawyer Jain and the police had earlier agreed that the actor would have her statement recorded at the stadium and reconstruct the incident at the scene of the alleged crime — the Garware pavilion.

“But she later changed her mind about participating in the spot panchanama, which is a very important part of the investigation,” an officer said.

“Although her lawyer has claimed to the media that Ness did not sexually assault her, the complaint Preity has filed is under the (penal code’s) Section 354.”

The section deals with “assault or criminal force on a woman with intent to outrage her modesty” and carries a maximum term of two years.

“In such a situation, her presence during the spot panchanama was very important for the investigation. Her statement could have been recorded at home, but she still would have had to come to Wankhede — which she initially refused to do, complaining about the media presence,” the officer said.

Preity’s worries about a media ambush were not unfounded: reporters, television cameras and photographers lay a virtual siege to her home, the Marine Drive police station and the Wankhede through most of the day.

Her black Lexus could avoid the paparazzi outside her home but at the Wankhede she had to push through a scrum of photographers to reach the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) headquarters at 5.45pm. A police team had been waiting there for over an hour.

Preity, who wears red to most IPL-related business meetings, was in a red-and-blue check shirt. The police took her to the Garware Club House where her statement was recorded from around 6.30pm in the presence of Jain.

An hour later, she was taken around the Garware pavilion stands where she described the scuffle when Ness allegedly assaulted her physically and verbally abused her in the presence of others during a match between the Kings XI Punjab and the Chennai Super Kings. She left at 8.45pm.

“We have asked her for a full list of her witnesses; we’ll question them too. She has cited only two so far. We have gone along and questioned some more people on our own, like the BCCI officials who she said she had communicated with about the incident,” said deputy commissioner of police Ravindra Shisve, who is overseeing the case.

“This visit by Preity Zinta is the most crucial phase of the investigation. Her statement to the police here and her list of witnesses would play a major role in deciding what action should be taken against Ness Wadia.”

So far, the police have recorded the statements of seven people, who include two Mumbai businessmen — Jay Kanojia and Danish Merchant — whom Preity cited as witnesses.

The rest include three women who were part of the hospitality service staff at the Garware pavilion, IPL chief operating officer Sundar Raman and BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel.

THE QUESTIONS

What the police asked Preity:

  • Where exactly did the alleged incident take place? In which stand of the Garware pavilion and on which seat?
  • From where and how did Ness approach her and what exactly did he do?
  • What was the sequence of the lead-up and what happened after the incident?
  • Who were present at the spot? Had she named all of them, or would she like to add to the list?
  • Who were the King’s XI Punjab staff present?
  • What was the content of the email she allegedly sent Ness days before the incident (apparently asking him to stop harassing her)?