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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 July, 2005, 17:15 GMT 18:15 UK
Bollywood star denies crime boast
By Zubair Ahmed
BBC correspondent in Mumbai

Salman Khan
Salman Khan: His lawyer 'welcomes inquiry'
Bollywood actor Salman Khan has denied being recorded boasting of links to underworld criminals in Mumbai.

Lawyers for the star said the voice in a secretly taped conversation was not that of their client.

Transcripts of the conversation appeared in Thursday's Hindustan Times. The paper says the tape is genuine.

It said Khan made the remarks four years ago in a telephone conversation with his then girlfriend Aishwarya Rai. State authorities promise an inquiry.


Salman Khan's lawyer Dipesh Mehta accused the Hindustan Times of trying to get cheap publicity by maligning his client's name in public.

Aishwarya Rai
Aishwarya Rai - Khan denies abusing her

"It's a heinous attempt to gain circulation by the paper," he told the BBC.

Mr Mehta welcomed the inquiry promised by state Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, which he said would clear his client's name.

The veracity of the conversation, and how a recording of it might have been obtained, remains unclear.

In the alleged phone call, the paper says the actor can be heard telling Aishwarya Rai of his links with notorious crime syndicates in Mumbai (Bombay).

City police commissioner AN Roy has denied the alleged conversation was recorded by his department.

Experts say even if the conversation were authentic it would be difficult to use it against the actor in a court if it was made by security officials.

Any government agency seeking to eavesdrop on an individual's phone calls in India must first get permission from a court. In this instance, it is not clear if permission was sought.

Salman Khan, who is currently facing a court case for his alleged involvement in a hit-and-run incident, is no stranger to controversy.

He has been accused by Ms Rai, a Bollywood heartthrob, of ill-treating her. Ms Rai's friend and fellow actor, Vivek Oberoi, has accused Mr Khan of making threatening calls to him.

Salman Khan has denied both the allegations.

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