Mumbai, July 14: In a phone conversation purportedly tapped by Mumbai police in August 2001, a man ' allegedly actor Salman Khan ' boasts: “I had full information about every one of the bomb blasts.”
Four years on, the police of the city where serial explosions killed 250 people in a matter of hours on March 12, 1993, have done nothing.
The contents of the tape ' as reported by the media today ' reveal the conversation between a man, addressed as “Salman Khan”, and a woman who is referred to as “Ash”.
Though legal experts say the tape is of no “legal consequence”, chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh told the Assembly he would order the police to investigate. The matter had been raised in the House by BJP leaders Gopinath Munde and Eknath Khadse.
The tape makes for juicy scandal, with the male voice shouting expletives at the woman to bully her into performing for a stage show funded by gangster Abu Salem.
“I know Abu Salem (who is now in a Portuguese jail), Chhota Shakeel and I know Dawood Ibrahim and Chhota Rajan. I know Guru Satam and all these underworld people,” the man says, according to the media reports. “If I say ‘aisi r**** ne mujhse aise baat ki (such a slut has spoken to me in this way)’, they will shoot you.
“Pehle baap ko maro ..., phir bhai ko maro, phir isko maro, pehle pao me maro, phir thigh pe maro, phir haat pe maro (kill the father first, then the brother, then her, first hit her in the legs, then the thighs, then the hands).”
“I have the power to do that. You know I can do that.”
Salman’s lawyer Dipesh Mehta has dubbed the tapes “false and fabricated”. Rai, Salman’s girlfriend of the time, has refused to comment and is said to be consulting her lawyers.
Officially, the Mumbai police have refused to own up to the tape, saying they need to verify it with their bank of taped conversations. But police sources said the phone-tapping, done between August 28 and 30 four years ago, was part of a surveillance operation on certain film personalities during investigations into the Bollywood-underworld nexus.
The crime branch probe in 2000-2001 was triggered by suspicion that Karachi-based Shakeel had funded the Salman-Preity Zinta-Rani Mukherjee starrer Chori Chori Chupke Chupke.
“You know CCCC' I was the only one who knew it was a Chhota Shakeel film,” the male voice says on the tape.
The film’s financier, diamond merchant Bharat Shah, and producer Nazeem Rizvi were arrested and several leading actors -- including Salman, Shahrukh Khan, Rakesh Roshan, Zinta, Sanjay Dutt and Mahesh Manjrekar -- were questioned. Apart from Zinta, who admitted to receiving threats from gangsters, none of the other 13 star witnesses would reveal anything.
“I was the only one who knew,” the male voice says in the transcript. “Not even Nazeem Rizvi or Bharat Shah. I did this role because I was scared of Chhota Shakeel'. Jaise Dawood bhai mere bade bhai ke relationship hain. Chhota Shakeel ke mere relationship hain (Dawood is like an elder brother, I have ties with Chhota Shakeel, too).”
When the woman remains non-committal about performing for the show, the man tells her she would be under watch by underworld men during her tour to the US.
“Salman Khan, don’t you dare,” the female voice says.
“Don’t you dare f*** with me, Ash” is the furious reply.
A newspaper that published a report on this said the blasts the man referred to were the March 12 explosions.
“Jitne bhi bomb blast the, mujhe poori information thi. Poori information mujhe malum thi bomb blast ke upar,” the man says.
Asked about the tape, deputy commissioner of police (crime) Dhananjay Kamlakar said, “We believe it is during the period when Bharat Shah was booked for alleged links with the underworld. We will verify the conversation. We are checking our records.”
Criminal lawyers feel the tapes may not possess any value as evidence in a court. “It does not appear to be from an authentic source,” criminal lawyer Majeed Memon said. “Assuming it is Salman, of what value is it if he was dead drunk and madly in love'”
Memon said it is unlikely that Tada court judge P.D. Kode would take cognisance of the statement since the judgment in the serial blasts case is due after a 12-year trial.
Former joint commissioner of police (crime) D. Sivanandhan, who investigated the Bollywood-underworld nexus, said, “This tape was not part of our evidence. We had filed the charge-sheet on March 30, 2001.”
The trial began on June 26, 2002. Shah, Rizvi and the director’s assistant were convicted and jailed on September 30, 2003.