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Chaos, confusion mark Parveen Babi’s funeral

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Posted: Jan 24, 2005 at 0001 hrs IST

She courted controversy when she was alive. And it continued to dog ’70s poster girl Parveen Babi even after her death.

As her body lay in the morgue at Cooper Hospital, Juhu, several claimants swooped down on the Juhu police station.

Farhat Sultana, the wife of Nawab Mohammed Salabatkhan Babi of Balasinor, came from Kheda in Gujarat.

‘‘My father and Parveen were first cousins. She was my aunt, but I am older,’’ Sultana, who came on Sunday afternoon, said.

‘‘I first heard it on TV. And then a friend informed me. I just want a dignified burial for Parveen,’’ she added.

Babi’s distant cousin Mushtaque and his sister-in-law Nasreen came from Junagarh while another cousin Ashfaque—with daughters Anisa and Verona in tow—camped outside the police station.

‘‘Only one person can claim the body,’’ Senior Police Inspector Sham R Chavan told Babi’s relatives.

‘‘Decide who will sign the papers. Let me make it clear, this is only to claim the body. It has nothing to do with her property,’’ he added.

Babi’s Juhu house is estimated to be worth Rs 5 crore.

After some discussion, the relatives agreed that Sultana was the right choice. And Babi was buried at a Muslim cemetery in Santacruz.

Earlier in the day, three priests armed with a baptism register came from All Saints’ Church, Malabar Hill, claiming that Babi had converted to Christianity.

‘‘She was baptised on June 21, 1997, and would attend prayers often,’’ Father Avinash said.

‘‘On December 25 last year, we visited Babi in her Juhu house. We should be allowed to perform her last rites according to the Catholic custom,’’ he added.

But the police turned down the priests’ request.

‘‘You have no certificates, no signatures of Parveen Babi. She was born a Muslim and we will wait for her close relatives,’’ said Investigating Officer M D Avahad of the Juhu police station.

Babi’s funeral was attended by a motley crowd that included former partners Mahesh Bhatt and Kabir Bedi, director Ashok Pandit and actor Danny Denzongpa.

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