|Rahul (top), Shweta
Mumbai, Nov. 20: Marriage was supposed to redeem him, or at least his image.
But a picture of his bruised newly-wed bride splashed on the front page of a Mumbai tabloid on Monday has dragged the late Pramod Mahajan’s son back into the limelight.
Mid-day claims the bruises are the result of marital violence and that Rahul Mahajan beat up Shweta several times in the two-and-a-half months since they were married on August 29.
The paper has released a taped phone conversation said to be between its reporter and Shweta, who was speaking from Delhi but is now with her parents in Dehra Dun. The conversation, as telecast on STAR News, has Shweta giving details of physical abuse at the hands of Rahul.
Asked about the number of times he has hit her, she mentions two incidents, one occurring about a month ago in Mumbai.
“He hit me on the thigh. I still have bruises,” Shweta tells the reporter.
She describes how he later apologised and they made up.
“Were there any witnesses'” the reporter asks.
“No. We were in our apartment by ourselves,” Shweta replies.
“So there were no witnesses,” says the reporter.
The two women then talk about an incident in Delhi where Rahul allegedly beat up Shweta inside a car.
Reporter: “Was the driver there'”
Shweta: “No he was in another car.”
Reporter: “Only Captain Malik and his family were there, is it'”
(“Captain Malik and his wife are family friends of the Mahajans and his son Gaurav is Rahul’s friend. They live in Delhi,” confirmed Rahul’s secretary Ausaj.)
Shweta mentions how Rahul kept apologising and later asked her to “hit him with a hammer and finish him off” for abusing her. She says Rahul has been calling her from Mumbai, saying: “I am missing you.”
Both women laugh.
Referring to another incident, the reporter asks: “What happened at Tirupati' Did he beat you there as well'”
“No, there he was just throwing things at me,” Shweta says.
The couple had visited Tirupati after their marriage.
Rahul has denied the allegations.
“This is bull****. Another ploy by some people to malign me and my family. I am shocked and angry. Shweta is visiting her parents and I am going to address a press conference jointly with her to deny these reports as soon as she gets back,” a livid Rahul said.
Asked about the pictures, he said: “What can’t technology do with pictures these days' You can change someone’s face or their body, you can create bruises, you can do anything. As for the picture that has been printed by the paper, it was taken before marriage.”
So is he contemplating legal action'
“Well, it is too early for all this. We will sit together as a family and see what has to be done. We will also seek legal opinion. It is a vilification campaign to keep me out of political limelight.”
A faxed written statement from Shweta sent by Rahul’s office says: “The story published in Midday Bombay is completely concocted with the intent to defame my husband Rahul Mahajan. It is my humble appeal to (the) entire media to refrain from giving credence to this false story as it severely affects my privacy and my family life.”
The statement, written on a plain sheet of paper, is signed “Shweta”.
Rahul, who has a TV production business, has had a history of drug abuse and temper outbursts, say many in Mumbai’s socialite circles where he is a regular.
He is fighting a court case for allegedly overdosing on drugs on June 2, a month after Pramod’s death. The police alleged that Rahul, his father’s chief aide Bibek Moitra and some friends were having a drug-and-drinks party when he and Moitra overdosed.
Moitra died under mysterious circumstances and a critical Rahul spent days on a ventilator at Delhi’s Apollo Hospital.
Shweta, a pilot with Jet Airways, kept vigil by his bedside throughout. On July 11, they got engaged.