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Sexual assault case against Papon for kissing minor girl: 10 things you need to know

All you need to know about the controversy around the case filed against Assamese singer Papon over kissing a minor girl on the sets of reality TV show, Voice India Kids.

music Updated: Feb 24, 2018 12:48 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Papon,Good touch bad touch,Papon kissing a minor girl
Papon is facing legal charges as a complaint has been filed against the singer for kissing a minor girl on the sets of a reality show, Voice India Kids.

Assamese singer Papon, who is currently under attack over the alleged molestation of a minor, has admitted it was a mistake, but claimed it was not a sexual assault. A Supreme Court lawyer filed a case against Papon, whose real name is Angarag Papon Mahanta, for allegedly assaulting a minor on a reality show where he is one of the mentors. While the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights has ordered a probe into the matter, the latest is Maharashtra state government taking action on the matter.

Here are all the latest updates on the case:

1. Papon’s video from Voice India Kids goes viral on Facebook
A video, where Papon is seen celebrating Holi with the contestants of Voice India Kids and planting a kiss on the girl’s face, went viral early Friday. Papon is one of the judges on the show along with Shaan and Himmesh Reshammiya. The video was originally posted on the singer’s official page. The incident reportedly took place during the shoot of a Holi celebration on the sets of a Hindi singing reality show where the girl is among the contestants.

2. SC lawyer files complaint
Supreme Court lawyer Runa Bhuyan filed a complaint of sexual assault against Papon for kissing a minor contestant of a reality TV show (Voice India Kids). The complaint was filed with the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) Act.

”I am shocked to see the behaviour of Papon towards the minor girl where he is seen to be applying colours on the girl and inappropriately kissing her. On seeing the video, I am seriously concerned regarding the safety and security of minor girls participating in reality shows across India,” Bhuyan said in her complaint.

3. Why Bhuyan filed the case
Supreme Court lawyer Runa Bhuyan told news agency ANI, “I have raised the concern before the commission as this is a grave concern regarding the safety and security of those kids who participate in reality shows. They are at the disposal of those TV channels. We don’t know how these kids are treated inside the platform. I hope the commission gives a proper response and also holds a proper enquiry.”

4. Child’s father calls it a ‘moment of affection’
Calling the act a “moment of affection”, the child’s father issued a statement saying, “It was just a moment of affection that is being portrayed otherwise. I would request and urge the media to not pursue this further. 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.”

The father also said Papon is a mentor and a father figure to his daughter and has always encouraged her to pursue her dreams.

5. TV channel responds
The television channel &TV that airs the show, Voice India Kids, issued a statement announcing “complete support to all parties impacted by the incident”.

“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. As a responsible channel, we are extending complete support to all parties who are impacted by this incident and will stand by them to help them through this situation,” the channel said in a statement.

6. Papon regrets “inappropriately kissing” the minor girl, apologises
In a long Facebook post, Papon shared his reaction to the entire fiasco late on Friday. He wrote on the social media platform, “I am very painfully conscious of the accusations that have been made against me in the last few days.”

He further wrote, “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.”

7. Papon claims “it was not a sexual assault”
Explaining why he kissed the minor girl, Papon wrote, “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. To show affection for an 11-year-old child whom I have been mentoring for a while now is not an alien concept for me.”

He further added, “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.”

8. Papon urges people to stop and think about the “people involved”
In his Facebook post, Papon wrote, “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.

“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,” the singer concluded.

9. National Commission for Protection of Child Right probes
Reacting to Bhuyan’s complaint, chairperson of National Commission for Protection of Child Right, Stuti Kacker said, “We have taken cognisance of the matter and are probing the incident. A notice each has been issued to the channel and the accused.”

The Prevention of Child Sexual Offence Act requires mandatory reporting of sexual crimes against children. “We have sought to know whether the channel complied with that,” NCPCR member Priyank Kanoongo added.

10. Maharashtra govt orders investigation
Taking cognisance of the controversy around the complaint against Papon, Maharashtra’s minister of state for women and child welfare Vidya Thakur has directed the Mumbai police to investigate the matter.

Speaking to ANI, Maharashtra’s state women’s body chief Vijaya Rahatkar confirmed that Thakur has talked to Mumbai CP, adding that Maharashtra Women Commission will take action on the same soon.

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First Published: Feb 24, 2018 12:46 IST