India seizes Pakistan cricketer's passport over marriage

Mon Apr 5, 2010 7:29am EDT
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HYDERABAD, India (Reuters Life!) - Indian police Monday seized the passport of the Pakistan cricketer Shoaib Malik -- soon to wed Indian tennis player Sania Mirza -- and questioned him in connection with allegations that he already has a wife, officers said.

Two of South Asia's best known sports personalities, Malik and Mirza planned to marry in April and settle in Dubai.

But in a case whose twists and turns have gripped India, a woman called Ayesha Siddiqui filed a police case against Malik claiming the two married in 2002 and has demanded a divorce.

Malik arrived in India last week and is staying at Mirza's house in the southern city of Hyderabad, where police questioned him for nearly two hours. They have also alerted Indian airports not to allow the cricketer to leave the country.

"The case is under investigation. We have come here for investigations," said Assistant Commissioner of Police R. Ravinder Reddy Monday.

Malik, 28, has been fighting a 12-month ban by the Pakistan Cricket Board for poor performance and indiscipline.

The 23-year-old Mirza was the first Indian to win a WTA tour event in 2005 and reached her highest world ranking of 27 two years ago although she has since slipped to 92nd.

Marriages between citizens of old foes India and Pakistan are not entirely uncommon, with Muslim families who migrated to Pakistan after the nation was carved out in 1947 maintaining ties with families who remained in India.

The marriage had already sparked controversy with the hardline Hindu group Shiv Sena, who said Mirza's heart could not be truly Indian if she chose to marry a Pakistani.

(Writing by Matthias Williams; Editing by Alistair Scrutton)