Mumbai businessman held for Bollywood teen actor’s alleged molestation on flight
Mumbai police opened an investigation for molestation and sexual abuse of a minor against a flyer, who was arrested late Sunday, after a National Award-winning actor posted a social media video narrating how she was touched inappropriately during a Delhi-Mumbai flight the night before.
The suspect – a 39-year-old businessman from Mumbai – was identified with the help of the airline and description provided by the actor, whose name is being withheld due to legal protocols that protect the identity of victims in sexual crimes.
He will be produced in a magistrate court on Monday.
Shaken and in tears, the 17-year-old actor said in an Instagram video that a man sitting behind her repeatedly put his feet on her back and neck.
“This is not the way, this is not (how) a girl should be made to feel because this is terrible. Is this how they are doing to take care of girls?” the actor said in the video made shortly after landing late on Saturday.
According to the Sahar police, a FIR was lodged based on her oral complaint under section 354 (assault or criminal force on a woman with intent to outrage her modesty) of Indian Penal code (IPC) and section 8 (sexual assault) of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act against the unknown passenger.
Jayant Sinha, the junior minister for civil aviation, said the suspect will be put on the national no-fly list if the allegations are true.
Condemnation against the incident poured in from celebrities and political leaders. Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said she was “appalled” by the incident and demanded swift action against the culprit.
“Any harassment/crime against women should be dealt with swiftly and effectively. As a mother of two daughters, I am appalled at what happened,” she tweeted.
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah also demanded action against the passenger. “The passenger should be identified to the police by @airvistara and a case filed for legal action. None of this “he fell at my feet so I forgive him” rubbish!” Abdullah posted.
The airline, Vistara, said it was investigating the complaint and would extend all help to the teenaged actor. According to news agency ANI, Vistara later submitted a report to the aviation regulator DGCA.
“We have submitted an initial incident report to the DGCA, and have also submitted all necessary details to the Police. Members of our senior management have flown to Mumbai to meet (the victim) and assist in the investigation process,” the airline was quoted as saying by ANI.
The actor is initially believed to have indicated that the flight staff did not act despite her raising the issue, but she did not file a complaint against the airline with the police.
The Delhi Commission for Women, which was formed with an aim to probe matters relating to the safeguards provided to women under the Constitution, issued a notice to Vistara and sought a response following media reports about the incident.
“The Commission views this matter extremely seriously,” DCW chairperson Swati Maliwal said.
(With agency inputs from Delhi)
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