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Judge warns Zahira over 'absolute lie'

Mumbai, Dec. 23: Zahira Sheikh, who has been accused of taking Rs 18 lakh to give false evidence in court, today repeated in court what she said outside the court premises: that she did not know Madhu Srivastava, the BJP leader in Vadodara who has allegedly paid her the money.

During her cross-examination that continued for the third consecutive day today, judge Abhay Thipse, who lost his patience often with Zahira for answering the prosecution in an indirect and roundabout way, also charged her with telling an 'absolute lie'.

When asked what led her to address reporters outside the court, Zahira said she was forced to do it when reporters bombarded her with questions on the accusation of taking money. 'I did not know what they were talking about at first. Then I asked them to explain and I denied the charge,' she said.

Zahira added she did not meet Srivastava ever. She had earlier alleged that on the day she had deposed before the Vadodara fast-track court, Srivastava had accompanied her to the court and forced her to turn hostile.

The court issued a stern warning and said she was telling an 'an absolute lie' when Zahira disowned a statement she had made in court on Tuesday regarding her knowledge of Gujarati. The judge also said she could be detained for going back on her previous statement. Zahira later said: 'Actually I cannot read or write Gujarati properly.'

Zahira was shown a piece of paper that the prosecution claimed was a letter written by her in Gujarati. To this Zahira said she did not have a very good knowledge of Gujarati.

The prosecution then pointed to a statement that Zahira made on Tuesday saying she could read and write Gujarati along with four other languages including Hindi. Zahira at first said that she did not tell the court that she knew how to read and write Gujarati. The judge called this 'an absolute lie' and said it is a very serious matter.

Later, she said that what she had meant was that she did not how to read and write Gujarati 'properly'.

Zahira was also asked to provide a sample of her writing, copying from a portion of the letter in Gujarati. The court said the two handwritings seemed to match.

The court will remain closed for the year-end and the hearing will begin again on January 6.

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