| Salman Khan
Mumbai, Jan. 8: Actor Salman Khan today charged Mumbai police with manufacturing the statement he is purported to have made to them in the Bharat Shah case.
Shah, a diamond merchant and film financier, stands accused by the police of funding the movie, Chori Chori Chupke Chupke, with underworld money and has been linked to fugitive gangster Chhota Shakeel.
Salman told a special court hearing the case that the confessional statements, which the police had claimed he had made on December 16, 2000, were not his.
The police had said the actor had told them of “threat calls” he had received from Chhota Shakeel and another don, Abu Salem, to act in films financed by them.
Salman stunned the courtroom by declaring that the statements attributed to him neither bear his signature nor were they read out to him, as the law required.
Denying that he was threatened by Shakeel to act in Chori Chori, Salman said he signed the film for Rs 1.5 crore, lower than his usual fee, because he liked the script. “In fact, I suggested that the film be directed by Abbas-Mastan (who directed Ajnabi and Humraaz, two recent hits),” he added.
Salman explained that as he was talking to the police, his statements were typed into a computer “which was too far away for me to read”. After the statement was recorded thus, the police did not show him the final version, nor had it signed by him, the actor added.
Yesterday, he was declared a hostile witness by the court when he said he had nothing to do with the mafia and had never received any threat calls from them. He also refused to identify Abdul Rahim Allah Buksh, who, the prosecution says, was Shakeel’s frontman and the one to approach Salman for a film deal.
On being cross-questioned by the defence today, Salman said neither Shah, nor the producer of Chori Chori, Nasim Rizvi, put pressure on him to work in the film.
The police contend that the film was made at the behest of Shakeel and that Shah and Rizvi were working on his behalf.
The Salman blow to the Mumbai police case followed damning statements by producer Harish Sugandh, another witness in the Shah case, who told the special court that the police might have used “dummy voices” and superimposed these on a tape allegedly carrying his voice.
In an equally startling claim, Sugandh had said the police, after taking “sample voices” of actor Sanjay Dutt, directors Mahesh Manjrekar and Sanjay Gupta and himself — alleged to have spoken to Shakeel for more than an hour from a hotel room in Nashik on November 14, 2000 — “superimposed” the conversation on a tape and released the transcripts as a chat with Shakeel.