A complaint has been registered against popular Bollywood singer Angarag Papon Mahanta, for allegedly molesting a minor contestant from a singing reality show.
Supreme Court lawyer Runa Bhuyan has filed a complaint with the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR, under the POCSO act, against the singer for 'inappropriately kissing' the minor.
In a video shared on Papon's official Facebook page, the 41-year-old singer is seen celebrating Holi with few of the contestants of 'The Voice of India Kids Season 2', a singing reality show of which he is a jury member. He is seen applying colours to a contestant and planting a kiss, apparently, on her mouth.
Lawyer for the singer, however, denied any such charges, reports ANI.
"It's important for people to understand that the video has been put in public domain by my client. If he had any objection, intention or any sort of feeling then he would not be putting out something against him," he said, adding that the controversy has affected the minor girl in question, and her family.
"The girl's father made a statement that relation between my client and the girl is like 'Guru-Shishya'," he further said.
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights have said it does prima facie appears to be a violation of the POCSO act.
"We've received complaint. We're examining it, soon we'll issue notice to the concerned state govt. Prima facie it seems to be a violation of POCSO Act," ANI quoted Priyank Kanungo, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, as saying.
Papon has issued a statement, sharing his side of the story. He has appealed not to take the matter out of context and allege unverfiable charges, however, admitting that he should not have been 'spontaneous'.
"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," he said.
Papon said he has decided to step down as judge from the singing reality show.
Famous for his renditions of folk songs on Coke Studio, Papon had also won an IIFA award in 2016 for best male playback singer (Male) for his song Moh Moh ke Dhage.
He has lent his voice for songs in commercial Bollywood movies like Sultan, Barfi, Dum Lagake Haisha, Bajrangi Bhaijan, among others, and enjoys a considerable fan following.
The video soon garnered controversy over allegations of molestation. Lawyer Runa Bhuyan, in her complaint to the NCPCR, alleged the video has "objectionable content violating bodily integrity amounting into sexual assault on a minor girl."
“The said video is taken in a van where the kids participating in reality show Voice of India Kids Season 2 are seemed to involve in some fun activity with the crew members of the show along with singer Angarag Papon Mahanta who is also a jury member of the show. Surprisingly, though there are number of minor girls present inside the van, not a single member of the crew is seen to be present inside the van,” said the top court lawyer.
“I am shocked to see the behaviour of the said singer Angarag Papon Mahanta towards a minor girl where he is seen to be applying colours on a minor girl and inappropriately kissing the said girl. On seeing the video, I am seriously concerned regarding the safety and security of minor girls participating in reality shows across India,” she added.