Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik, facing a cheating case in Hyderabad, may not be able to leave the country soon as his passport is required by the police for verification following a criminal complaint by Ayesha Siddiqui, who claims to be his wife.
Hyderabad City Police Commissioner A K Khan on Monday indicated that he could not give any time-frame within which the investigations into the case would be completed.
"It is difficult to set a timeline at this stage because we are not yet totally sure how much of work it entails. As of now, the rough assessment is that there are 14 to 15 witnesses in and around Hyderabad itself," he said.
On Monday, the police took the passport of Malik and asked him not to leave the country as they questioned him in the wake of a complaint of cheating, harassment and criminal intimidation lodged by Ayesha's father.
"As part of investigations, Shoaib's passport has been taken. We felt it necessary to check from the passport the veracity of her (Ayesha's) assertions that Shoaib Malik had visited Hyderabad during the alleged wedding period," Khan said.
Khan clarified that Shoaib's passport has not been confiscated or impounded. It has been taken to verify entries.
Asked when Shoaib would get back his passport, Khan made it clear that as of now it would remain with the Central Crime Station (CCS) - a wing of Hyderabad City Police, which has taken over investigations into the case.
The Police Commissioner said besides the passport a lot of other documents needed to be examined. "May be, the Forensic Science Laboratory also will get into the picture".
He said police will also have to reach out to witnesses outside Hyderabad. The Siddiqui family has been asked to produce all the material evidence in support of their initial complaint.
The immigration authorities have been informed about the case, Khan said adding "It would enable to keep a watch at airports...in case the accused intends to travel outside."
Asked if Malik faces arrest, Khan said "If it becomes necessary to arrest somebody, we will do it but that is all based on how the case evolves and what sort of evidence we come across."
On Ayesha's claim that she had suffered a miscarriage after her marriage with Shoaib, Khan said the investigating officers will also look into this aspect to establish its veracity.
"Our concern is to establish the truth and putting it before the court," he said.
The Hyderabad Police Commissioner said that to ensure a thorough and professional investigation, Malik's case has been transferred to CCS.
Reacting to queries if the investigation would be completed before April 15 (the day of proposed marriage between Shoaib and Sania Mirza), Khan said "we will go by the facts of the case and investigate."
"Now, we are in the process of collecting evidence and examining witnesses. At every stage, we will take legal help also and once the whole thing is completed, we will weigh the quality of evidences that we have and will decide what should be done with the case," Khan said.
"We are not going to hurry up or delay with the case. The investigation process has just started and it will take a long time in examining the witnesses including the Qazis," he added.Referring to Malik's visa, he said "the visa he has does not require him to report to police but during the course of the investigation, if it is required to impose certain restrictions on Shoaib, we will do it," Khan added.