A neighbour of actor Preity Zinta has told the police she showed him bruises on her arm on May 31, a day after she was allegedly molested and verbally abused by industrialist and ex-boyfriend Ness Wadia.
Zinta had lodged a police complaint against Wadia days after the alleged incident, which is said to have taken place during an IPL match at Wankhede Stadium on May 30. Both Zinta and Wadia are co-owners of IPL franchise Kings XI Punjab.
Zinta’s neighbour Danish Merchant (52), who is a city-based builder, has told the police, “I went to her home the next day. There, she showed me a bruise on her elbow that she had got when Ness grabbed and pulled her. She said to me, ‘Is this how you treat a girl?”
The police said Merchant was one of the four key witnesses to the May 30 incident that Zinta detailed in her supplementary statements on Tuesday. They said Merchant was invited by Zinta for the match.
In his statements recorded with the Marine Drive police station last week, Merchant said he was seated at the Garware Pavilion where the incident occurred. He said he saw American national Jean intervene when Wadia grabbed Zinta’s arm and heard Jean tell Wadia to back off and stay away from her.
“About 40 minutes after the match began, Wadia came and started screaming because he couldn’t find a seat for his mother. He said, ‘What the hell do you think of yourself? You f*****g w***e. You f*****g b***h. You have shown your class.’ He then left. After the match, Zinta went down to ground and told us she would return in half-an-hour. Jean and I waited in my car. When she returned half-an-hour later, she looked disturbed and started crying. She was so distraught that I didn’t ask her anything that night,” Merchant’s statement to police reads.
Along with businessman Jai Kanojia and Jean, Merchant is a key witness who the police believe will independently corroborate Zinta’s allegations. While Kanojia has refused to record his statements, the police plan to communicate with Jean, who is currently abroad. “We will send summons to Kanojia to cooperate with the investigation,” a senior police officer said.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Merchant said Wadia had no intention to hurt Zinta. “He was angry that day and he said all those things. He did not mean it when he said he would kill her. He is not a bad guy,” he said, while confirming details he gave to police.
Meanwhile, the police will record statements of the 15 witnesses named by Zinta on Tuesday, by the end of this week.
“Once all the statements are recorded, we will send summons to Ness Wadia,” the officer said. Police have also written to the Mumbai Cricket Association seeking footage from CCTV cameras near the second spot named by Zinta in her statements. At present, the police are examining footages from eight CCTV cameras and are yet to receive raw footage from IPL broadcaster Sony Television.