End of a love story: Chiru’s son-in-law jailed
This is straight out of a Tollywood potboiler. Only, this one does not end so well. Sirish Bhardwaj, the son-in-law of actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi, on Wednesday surrendered before a local court after evading arrest for over four months in a dowry harassment case.
Bhardwaj’s estranged wife Srija, who is Chiranjeevi’s youngest daughter, had accused him and her in-laws of harassing her for dowry. The couple had married against the wishes of Srija’s family in 2007 and have a two-year-old daughter.
Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate sent Sirish to judicial custody till August 8. The Supreme Court had rejected his anticipatory bail plea in May.
It advised him to surrender before the concerned local court and seek regular bail after arrest. Following a bitter break-up, Srija has filed a complaint with the police on March 15 alleging that Sirish and her mother-in-law had tortured her mentally and physically for dowry.
Couple defies all, gets married
On October 17, 2007, Srija, then 19, married Sirish Bharadwaj, 22, at Arya Samaj Mandir at Bowenpally, Hyderabad, against the wishes of her famous father. Immediately after the ceremony, the couple approached the media, saying that they feared for their lives, and asked for police protection, thus, creating a flurry.
While Srija belongs to the Kapu community, Sirish is a Brahmin.
Srija claimed to the media that her parents and other members of her family were against her love affair with Sirish and put her under virtual house arrest for a year.
The couple, who were seeing each other for the last four years, alleged that they were threatened from Chiranjeevi’s family and sought help from the police and media.
“We are majors now and are legally allowed to marry,” the bride said. “We need protection for us and our in-laws so that my parents don’t come and take me away from my husband.”
“As soon as my parents came to know about my affair with Sirish, they forced me to discontinue my studies,” she said. “I was virtually confined at home. I escaped with the help of friends and got married secretly.”
Unpleasant twist in the story
A day after their marriage, the Hyderabad police claimed the groom had a criminal past. The case, registered on the basis of a complaint filed by the girl’s father, was then treated as a juvenile offence as Bharadwaj was still a minor.
Apparently, the case had only come to light in the wake of the flutter created by the marriage. The news created quite a stir, more so, because the couple was still on it the run, and their whereabouts, unknown.
Though, it was later revealed that Sirish was acquitted in the case, because the girl did not testify against him.
The couple seeks police protection, Chiranjeevi melts
The couple then eloped to Delhi, having a rough tough time travelling. They had to be on the lookout all the time as they feared that they could be chased. The couple reportedly changed at least six cars before reaching their destination.
Five days after their marriage, on October 22, in a desperate bid to save their lives, knocked on the doors of the Delhi high court seeking police protection.
A division bench of the court took on record the plea by the couple and ordered that police protection be granted.
In the meantime, the superstar himself went on assuring them that no harm would be done to them.
“The important thing is that my family and well wishers have stood by me during this traumatic period. But now I want to bless my daughter and tell her that sweety, wherever you are, I wish you happiness,” Chiranjeevi reportedly said.
Eloped couple returns home
After spending three weeks in New Delhi under police protection, Srija and Sirish returned to Hyderabad on November 11, 2007.
But since no one from her family was present at the airport to receive them, Srija went to her in-laws’ house at Begumpet in Secunderabad.
On July 7, 2008, the couple had a daughter, and Chiranjeevi expressed his joy of becoming a grandfather. But the joy was short-lived.
End of a love story, cracks open wide
On March 15, 2011, Srija filed a dowry harassment case against Sirish and her mother-in-law, alleging that they had been exploiting and ill-treating her, demanding Rs 50 lakh. She said in the complaint that the harassment began just when she had started to get close to her father again.
The couple had already sparked rumours that all was not well with their marriage when the couple had appeared on news channels, reiterating their love for each other.
There were whispers that Srija had given several crore rupees to Sirish when he ventured into the event management business.
The police filed a case under the Dowry Prohibition Act. Sirish was questioned, but not arrested, and denied bail.
Finally, on Wednesday, Sirish surrendered, after evading arrest for over four months, and has been sent to judicial custody till August 8.