Singer Papon has apologised for touching a “girl child”, though he had “innocent thoughts”, following a complaint against him for “inappropriately kissing” a minor. He says he is “very painfully conscious of the accusations” that have been made against him.
In a video, Papon is seen celebrating Holi with the contestants of the singing reality show The Voice India Kids. The artiste, who is also one of the judges of the show, can be seen planting a kiss on her lips. The video became viral online.
According to reports, Supreme Court lawyer Runa Bhuyan filed a complaint with the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights against Papon under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) Act saying that he has “committed sexual assault”.
“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,” Papon said in a statement.
“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 added.
The video was put on his own Facebook live. So he told people to “stop for a moment and at least wonder why I would promote a video where I am ‘apparently’ doing all the unmentionable things that I am being accused of”.
Papon, who has sung for films like “Barfi!“, “Sultan” and “Dum Laga Ke Haisha“, has been married for over 14 years and has two 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,” he said.
“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,” he added in the statement in which he also said accuse him of “being naive and stupid”.
“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 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.”
The safety and respect of women is of “grave importance” to him and “I would never commit an act that is inappropriate or discourteous in any form”.
The girl’s father said that Papon is a mentor and a father-figure to his daughter.
“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,” he added.