Mumbai police on Saturday identified two people who allegedly saw Bollywood actor and Kings XI Punjab co-owner Preity Zinta abused and molested by her former boyfriend and industrialist Ness Wadia at the Wankhede Stadium on May 30.
The 39-year-old actor’s molestation complaint has also revealed that this wasn’t the first time she had been abused by Wadia.
Police said they have been unable to contact the witnesses so far but their statements will be recorded soon. The IPL COO Sundar Raman may also be questioned with regard to an earlier incident of abuse as alleged by Zinta.
The police may also ask for official IPL footage as Zinta has alleged Wadia abused and insulted her on the cricket ground too.
Zinta said that Wadia had threatened her with dire consequences and intimidated her by boasting of his political clout and connections. “… he said he could make me disappear as I was nobody and only an actress and he’s a powerful person”.
In an emotional Facebook post titled “From my heart”, Zinta said people in the past had looked away when Wadia abused her but she had to report the Wankhede incident as it had “happened in front of way too many people”.
In her FIR (a copy is with HT) Zinta alleged that besides the public abuse at Wankhede, Wadia had abused her during a player auction in Bengaluru in February. The spat then had gotten so bad that IPL COO Sundar Raman had to intervene, Zinta alleged. “We will be recording the statement of Raman too,” a police source said.
A senior police official said after verifying the actor’s allegations, the police would decide whether to record Wadia’s statement or arrest him
The National Commission for Women has also decided to take suo motu cognizance and will conduct an investigation.
Meanwhile, Wadia has denied all allegations and a source close to him said the industrialist, “had booked about 14 seats in Garware Pavilion (Wankhede Stadium) and had got angry when he saw his mother Maureen Wadia standing for around 20 minutes as all seats had been occupied by Zinta and her guests.
Wadia argued with the actor over lack of courtesy being shown to his elderly mother, which has now been twisted and turned into a molestation case”.
Preity's emotional Facebook post
Zinta wrote a long and emotional Facebook post explaining why she had to take this "drastic step". She said that nobody stood by her while she was abused and publicly insulted. She also said she had never said anything about Wadia in the past but now is left with no other choice.
What went wrong?
A source close to the former couple, who wishes to remain anonymous, has told HT that the two used to "quarrel a lot in their five-year-long courtship".
The source adds, "Preity is currently in the US. But before leaving, she had confided in me about this incident that took place on May 30, also Ness's birthday. Preity confided that during an argument, Ness got rude in front of people and strongly held her by the arm, leaving bruises."
The source dismisses speculation that the presence of another girl in Wadia's life could have been the reason for a discord. "Ness is seeing a 23-year-old woman, Hannah, who is not Indian. The two met during this season of IPL itself. She can't be the reason for the argument at all. Preity and Ness have been dating different people after they ended their relationship and there has never been jealousy," says the source.
Preity Zinta-Ness Wadia relationship
The couple started dating in 2005 but it was not a smooth ride. In 2007, the chinks started appearing when filmmaker Shekhar Kapur's now ex-wife Suchitra Krishnamoorthi blamed Preity for her broken marriage. Preity denied the allegations.
In 2008, the couple went on to become the co-owners of Kings XI Punjab. The news of rift between the duo started appearing after a sloshed Ness allegedly slapped Preity at a party in April 2009. Even after they separated, neither went on record about reasons behind the split. It was only in 2013 that Preity said in an interview that she was the one to walk out of the relationship.
"What a sordid climax to a fairytale romance. The nation is going to closely watch how this high-profile case plays out. I'm certain that the police will act independently and after a through probe. We must avoid passing any judgment," says filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt.