Shiney in custody, wife rushes back

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By SAMYABRATA RAY GOSWAMI in Mumbai
  • Published 15.06.09
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Mumbai, June 15: He came clad in a yellow tee and grey jeans, his rippling muscles and expensive perfume exuding Bollywood glamour. Only the black cloth covering his face and the bare feet put Shiney Ahuja in league with the sundry common criminals trooping into Andheri court.

Arrested this morning for allegedly raping his maid, the 36-year-old new-age Bollywood actor known for his brooding roles ducked the television cameras after a Mumbai court sent him to police custody till June 18.

“He is an influential person and can tamper with evidence in the case, so the court has sent him to police custody. The victim and the accused were alone at his residence during the incident. The statements of witnesses are still to be recorded and clothes recovered from the victim and Ahuja have been sent to the Kalina Forensic Science Laboratory for tests. The results are yet to come,” said public prosecutor S. Kasture.

Charged with raping his 19-year old domestic help yesterday afternoon, Shiney, claimed his lawyer Shrikant Shivade, was the victim of a “frame-up”.

The actor of films like Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi has been booked under Sections 376 (rape), 346 (wrongful restraint) and 506 (threat to kill) of the Indian Penal Code. If the charges are proved, he could be sentenced to a minimum jail term of seven years.

Police officers who have been interrogating the actor since last night, ostensibly in an airconditioned room, claimed he had “confessed” committing the crime in a drunken state.

“He initially claimed that he had consensual sex with his maidservant, but later broke down and confessed that it was rape. He was arrested early Monday after the preliminary tests conducted on his domestic help confirmed the sexual assault,” said assistant commissioner of police Dilip Suryavanshi.

Shiney and the victim, who has said she had been working at his place him for the past one-and-a-half months, have undergone medical tests in a government hospital.

“Preliminary medical reports on the victim have proved positive. There is also medical evidence of assault and injuries on the victim’s private parts. She has said in her statement that she was molested on June 13. She did not want to go back to the house after the incident, but Shiney’s cook, a lady from Bihar who had got her employed in the house, insisted she come when the victim had called in reporting sick. She was subsequently raped on June 14,” Suryavanshi said.

The police claim that the cook, who is also under interrogation, came to Shiney’s apartment and took the girl away after the incident and sent her to her relatives’ house.

The alleged incident happened at Ahuja’s upscale residence at Tarapore Tower apartments in suburban Oshiwara, in northwest Mumbai.

The apartment block is named after Colonel A.B. Tarapore, the highest ranking Indian Army officer to win the Param Vir Chakra for his role in the 1965 Pakistan war. Shiney’s seventh-floor apartment belongs to his father, a former army officer who now stays in Noida.

The victim has alleged that yesterday the actor dragged her into his bedroom, gagged and raped her while threatening to kill her if she protested or complained. She later went to her relatives’ place nearby and after discussing the matter with them, decided to lodge a complaint.

A resident of Vasai township close to Mumbai, the girl has now been moved to a government-run home in Chembur.

Shiney’s wife Anu Ahuja and their two-year-old daughter were away in Delhi visiting the actor’s parents at the time of the incident.

“Anu and Shiney have always had a long-distance relationship and have handled their marriage well. She was earlier in New York, but lives in Delhi at present — though they visit each other regularly. She has now rushed back to Mumbai to be at his side,” said a friend of the actor.

Speaking to reporters outside the Andheri court, Anu fiercely defended her husband. “He is a man of character and the family stands by him.”

Known as an outsider to the industry since he hails from Delhi, Shiney does not have too many friends in Bollywood, with most brushing off his success as fluke and branding him “arrogant”.

Shiney studied in St Xavier’s, Ranchi, and in Delhi’s Army Public School and later went to Hansraj College.

After a critically acclaimed debut in Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi — though the sleazy Sins, where he plays a church father in love, released first — Shiney has been struggling at the box office. Though Gangster worked, it was largely credited to Emraan Hashmi’s popularity, the hit music and Kangana Ranaut’s smashing debut. Whenever he has played a solo hero, Shiney has fallen flat — from Woh Lamhe to Zindaggi Rocks, Khoya Khoya Chand to Hijack.

Currently, Shiney has two films in his kitty. Tito-Tony’s Har Pal, directed by Jahnu Barua and opposite Preity Zinta, is sitting ready in the cans for a long time, struggling to find a distributor. Shiney has almost finished shooting for Pritish Nandy Communications’ Accident opposite Soha Ali Khan. The court verdict is sure to decide the course of that film.