Nov. 11: Abu Salem will find it difficult to get anywhere near wife, or girlfriend, Monica Bedi, who is now the favourite target of interrogators.
The CBI sees the former model and small-time Bollywood actress as a close but soft associate of Salem who is a potential candidate for spilling the beans not only on the underworld, but also its association with film stars.
Monica was flown to Hyderabad tonight for interrogation by the police there in a case of securing a passport under a fictitious name from Kurnool district.
CBI officers whisked Monica away from the cargo area of the airport to an undisclosed location, giving the slip to the waiting media.
Along with Salem, she had got a fake passport done as Sana Malik in August 2001.
Earlier in Mumbai, sessions judge R.B. Malik granted transit remand to Monica so that she could be taken to Hyderabad.
Monica was booked under various sections of the IPC and Passport Act in connection with two cases of forgery of passport, the second in Bhopal.
She had travelled on forged documents to stay with Salem in Lisbon for the past few years.
“He (Salem) and Monica Bedi were handed over to the CBI team headed by a DIG in the intervening night of November 10 and 11 (in Portugal),” CBI director Uma Shankar Misra said in Delhi.
The two had been arrested by Portuguese police in 2002 on charges of entering the country on forged passports and marrying local residents to get permanent resident status.
The CBI and police officials know Salem would be a hard nut to crack, but see in Monica an ambitious woman who went Salem’s way mainly to get into Bollywood. The rumour goes that a phone call from Salem would land her roles.
Born in a village in Punjab, Monica grew up in Norway after her mother and doctor father moved there and opened a clothes store. She came to Delhi in the mid-90s and started to work as a model.
Later she migrated to Mumbai to try her luck in the film industry where she came into contact with Mukesh Duggal, a film producer, who took her to Dubai for a stage show.
It was there that he introduced Monica to Salem. While Salem helped Monica get work in the movies, she allegedly passed on information about film personalities in exchange.
Investigators who have studied Monica believe she will speak up at the slightest application of pressure.
“Salem has the capacity to mislead interrogators. But Monica’s presence can help us not only cross-check his statements, but also counter him with evidence given by his live-in partner,” said a police official.
Cops says charges against Monica of forging passports can put her behind bars for a maximum of six years.