Papon on kissing minor: I made a mistake but this is not sexual assault

A Supreme Court lawyer filed a complaint against Assamese singer Papon, accusing him of forcibly kissing a minor during a Facebook Live session. Papon has said that he was merely showing affection.

music Updated: Feb 23, 2018 17:29 IST
Yashika Mathur
Yashika Mathur
Hindustan Times
Papon,Voice India Kids,Molestation
Reacting to a complaint filed against him, singer Papon has said that he holds the girl in highest regard.

Refuting a complaint filed against him, Assamese singer Angarag Papon Mahanta, also known as Papon, has stated that he kissed a minor contestant of a reality show out of affection and it was not a sexual assault. During a Facebook Live session with the contestants of Voice India Kids that he is judging, Papon can be seen applying colour to a contestant’s face and later kissing her. A Supreme Court lawyer, Runa Bhuyan, filed the complaint with the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) Act, claiming that the singer has “committed sexual assault”.

The singer, however, says that he was only showing his “affection” to the 11-year-old contestant he is mentoring. “I am very painfully conscious of the accusations that have been made against me in the last few days. Anyone who knows me would be aware that I am an extremely affectionate and expressive person. That is the way I have been brought up and that’s how I have always been with people close to me or people I care about,” Papon said in a statement.

He added, “To show affection for an 11-year-old child who I have been mentoring for a while now is not an alien concept for me. Please do remember that it a video on my own Facebook live and stop for a moment and at least wonder why I would myself promote a video where I am ‘apparently’ doing all the unmentionable things that I am being accused of.”

He accepted that he has made a mistake given today’s environment. “My humble request to everyone, when you do come across this matter is to just pause and think about how much harm this does to the people involved. I have a loving wife of over 14 years and two young children. There is a little girl involved, whose identity is not masked in any way. Both of our families are being destroyed forever, just by people jumping to conclusions. However, this is not to say that I haven’t made a mistake. I might have done it spontaneously but in today’s environment, to touch a girl child, however innocent your thoughts are, is not advisable. I am sorry for that. Please do accuse me of being naïve and stupid even but please do not call me all those disgusting names.”

The singer says it is important to maintain the dignity of the girl and blames the “faulty camera angles”. He said, “Please note that the girl in question and her family have gone on record and stated that what is being depicted is not what actually transpired and it is in fact just a case of faulty camera angles and an accidental move and not a sexual assault as being reported. The said incident transpired in the presence of personnel from the reality show and there is nothing objectionable about it. I admit that I am an extremely affable person and am very convivial with my fan community but please bear in mind that I have been happily married for over 14 years with two children and I would do nothing to cause harm to them. I hold the girl in high regards not only as a lady but also as a contestant on the reality show I am part of. If I had anything to be culpable of, the said video would have been deleted from my social media. As an accountable civilian, the safety and respect of women is of grave importance to me and I would never commit an act that is inappropriate or discourteous in any form. Please know that my intentions with everything that I do in my life are always pure and honest and I would never commit an indecent act as it is being portrayed. I urge the members of the press and my fans to please consider both sides of the story before maligning my public repertoire and damaging the reputation of this girl. My family stands by me in this tough time where I feel I am victimized for no fault of mine.”

Papon is a mentor to the girl on reality show, The Voice India Kids, and was celebrating Holi during a Facebook Live session on his official page. Earlier, the father of the girl had also said that Papon is a “father figure” to his daughter.

“ Papon sir is a mentor and a father figure to my daughter and has always encouraged her to pursue her dreams. He doesn’t differentiate among the children who are here and gives them equal guidance on pursuing their dreams. What you saw in the video is not intentional. It was just a moment of affection that is being portrayed otherwise. I would request and urge the media to not pursue this further,” the contestant’s father said in a statement.

The channel, &TV that hosts the show, also issued a statement which said,”We as a channel have always been focused on the safety, security and well-being of the contestants participating in our shows. We have always adhered to the NCPCR guidelines and our production house, Essel Vision Productions Limited, has taken all precautionary measures required under NCPCR and other laws. We believe in nurturing talent with utmost sensitivity and care while we provide them the platform to showcase their aptitude.”

When contacted, Buyan refused to withdraw her complaint. When told about the stand of the contestant’s father, she said, “If this is the case, then I don’t have the matter in my hand. It is the commission’s decision. The case will not be withdrawn, the CD (of the FB session) is in front of the Commission, if they feel that Papon has done anything wrong, then they should hold him guilty,” she said.

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First Published: Feb 23, 2018 16:21 IST