x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Dubai expatriate questioned over murder of Bollywood starlet Laila

Mumbai police believe businessman was married to actress.

DUBAI // A Dubai-based businessman said yesterday that he had been wrongly suspected by Mumbai police of being involved in the murder of Bollywood starlet Laila Khan and five members of her family.

Speaking from Mumbai after he had been questioned by police, Vafi Khan said that they believed he was the actress's husband.

But Mr Khan, 23, claimed: "I have never met Laila Khan."

The bodies of Laila Khan, her mother, two sisters, a brother and a cousin, who went missing more than a year ago, were discovered on Tuesday buried in the grounds of a farmhouse 140km from Mumbai.

They had been led to the burial ground by Laila Khan's stepfather, Parvez Tak, who was arrested a few weeks ago.

In a press conference on Wednesday, police said the stepfather had confessed to the murders and that the mystery had been solved. After the press conference the police questioned Vafi Khan for 45 minutes.

"The police are trying to blame me. They said I was trying to take her to Dubai. I just don't know the lady," said Mr Khan.

The businessman is also known as "Sonu" by his family and he said he was suspected of being involved in the murders because, he claimed, another man by the name "Sonu" was known to the actress and her family.

"Coincidentally, a person called Sonu is involved in this case. I also think I am being framed because someone has a business rivalry with my father," he said.

He said his wife's name is Yasmine Khan, and that they had married last year. He added that he had provided police with the marriage certificate to prove it.

"My wife, Yasmine, is very upset by what is happening," he said.

Mr Khan said he left for Mumbai on Tuesday night after police contacted his father, Kamal Jadhwani, who was in India at the time, asking for Mr Khan. Mr Jadhwani is also a Dubai resident.

Indian media reported that Laila Khan's biological father, Nadir Patel, filed a complaint after she went missing in February last year.

Laila Khan, a Pakistani-born actress, is known for her role in the 2008 film Wafaa. Since her disappearance there had been speculation that she had moved to Dubai.

Mumbai police confirmed that they had questioned Vafi Khan.

"We are not sure if they are married," said Niket Kaushik, the additional commissioner of police, crime branch. "We contacted his family here and he appeared for questioning."

He added that Mr Khan had not been detained and that police were trying to establish whether he had any connection to the actress or the murders.

Yesterday, Mr Khan's father said the family was keen to clear his son's name.

"This is a case of mistaken identity. He has no contact with Laila Khan. It is a tough time for him. We are willing and ready to clarify everything," said Mr Jadhwani, who also runs a construction business in India.

Mr Khan said that he hoped his name would be cleared soon so that he could return to Dubai.

pkannan@thenational.ae