Ahmedabad, Oct. 18: Danseuse Mallika Sarabhai was today accused of cheating by students who claimed she promised to take them on a tour abroad and charged Rs 3.30 lakh each, but later dropped them and did not return the money.
An FIR was filed against her this evening at Naranpura police station.
Sarabhai, who is an outspoken critic of the Narendra Modi government and filed a petition against it in the Supreme Court after the post-Godhra riots last year, denied the charges brought by Manushi Shah and 12 others and alleged that the complaint was filed at the “behest of the ruling party”. “One should find out her political connections,” she said of Manushi, the main complainant.
“Every time I confront the state government, they try to harass me.” Sarabhai promised legal action “against those trying to tarnish my reputation and that of my academy”.
The danseuse said that as India’s representative to CIOFF — a Unesco body for folk dances — she was to take a group to America and Brazil in May this year. Participants were to pay the travel charges because the tour was not sponsored.
But when it applied for visas in April, the troupe ran into hurdles that Sarabhai attributes to 9/11. She then decided to go only to Brazil, but since many of the 23 participants did not want that, the tour was cancelled and the money returned.
However, the academy kept Rs 20,000 per participant as fee for teaching folk dance four hours a day for six months. All the participants were told and no one had a problem, she said.
The complainant was not available for comment. But her father, Hemant Shah, asked reporters to get in touch with S.C. Saxena, “who knows everything about the controversy”.
Saxena runs an NGO, National Council for Civil Liberty, which has been running a campaign against Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar. He is seen as a front man for the state government in fighting the NBA.
Digant Oza, co-petitioner with Sarabhai in the riots case against the government, today said Saxena had told him “he would teach Mallika a lesson she will not forget in her life”.