In the second blow to B4U after the arrest of diamond merchant Bharat Shah for mob linkage, Mukta Arts, of the showman Subhash Ghai, has rescinded its contract worth 14 crore of assigning film rights to the B4U Movie channel. Speaking to the press, Ghai said "We had signed a contract with B4U on December 31 to create a library of all Mukta Arts films from Karz to Taal for telecast. But the channel conveyed its inability to pay Rs 14 crore, the contract sum. We cancelled the contract on January 26." Insiders however said that money was not really the issue but the notoriety that Bharat Shah had got and the vendetta of the police ensured that people stay as far away from as possible lest they get sucked into the fracas. In an earlier development, Laxmi Mittal, one of the promoters of B4U, had withdrawn his stake from B4U so as to avoid controversy and stay on the right side of powers that be. It is rumored that Mittal had reacted thus in the aftermath of the Mumbai police investigations into the Bollywood-underworld nexus and the arrest of Shah. Asked about reports that steel magnate Laxmi Mittal has withdrawn his stake from the entertainment channel, Ghai said: "I have no information about it" and denied that his decision had anything to do with Laxmi Mittal's decision. The crime branch arrested Shah on January 8 under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act on the basis of secret telephone conversations tapped by the police. In a sign that the state government wanted to ensure that Shah is finished, his pleas for bail were rejected twice. Just before Shah was arrested, crime branch sleuths had visited B4U office for inquiries and had succeeded in scaring the staff. To ensure that the tie-up with Doordarshan for telecasting Hindi movies was not affected, B4U removed the name of Shah from their contract and renamed the company as B4U Broadband. The channel had earlier fired some of its top executives in an internal re-organisation. B4U's CEO Ravi Gupta and promoter Kishore Lulla in London could not be contacted. A Buzz, the agency that handles PR for both B4U and Bharat Shah, said that Gupta had gone to London and was not available for comment.
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