image

India

Indian police file rape case against Bollywood actor Alok Nath in rare #MeToo development

  • Reports of sexual violence are widespread in the South Asian nation, where activists regularly speak out against frequent rapes and murders
  • The case comes hot on the heels of reports of another man being arrested in Delhi on Monday, on charges of raping and killing a three-year-old girl
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 November, 2018, 8:43pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 November, 2018, 8:43pm

Indian police have registered a rape case against Bollywood actor Alok Nath, a rare development in the country’s burgeoning #MeToo movement, which has seen very few accusations investigated by the authorities.

Vinta Nanda, a writer and producer, has accused the veteran actor of raping her 19 years ago.

“Yesterday, Vinta Nanda visited Oshiwara police station (in Mumbai) and filed a complaint against Alok Nath,” said deputy commissioner Paramjit Singh Dahiya on Wednesday.

“Investigations are on and an FIR (first information report) has been filed under section 376 of the IPC (Indian Penal Code).”

In a Facebook post published last month, Nanda said she had been “brutalised and violated endlessly” by the popular star. She did not name him directly but dropped enough hints that others in the Hindi film industry to quickly identified him on Twitter.

Nath, 62, denies the allegations and has sued Nanda for defamation. He has also asked for a written apology and token compensation of one rupee.

India’s belated #MeToo movement started gaining traction in late September. It has seen women share accounts of alleged harassment by several powerful men in the worlds of Bollywood, business, journalism, politics, comedy and even cricket.

The trigger appears to have been actress Tanushree Dutta, who accused well-known Bollywood actor Nana Patekar of inappropriate behaviour on a film set 10 years ago. Since then, a slew of powerful Bollywood figures have been accused of sexual misconduct, including Vikas Bahl and Sajid Khan. All have denied the claims.

Very few cases are being looked into by the police, although officers at the same station where Nanda filed her complaint are also investigating Dutta’s allegation.

Last month, M.J. Akbar resigned as India’s junior foreign minister after at least 20 women accused him of sexual harassment during his time as a newspaper editor.

Akbar – who denies the allegations – is suing one of the complainants, Priya Ramani, for defamation.

India ranked most dangerous country for women amid widespread sexual violence

In a separate development on Wednesday, a 20-year-old jobless man confessed to raping and killing at least nine girls aged between three and seven in New Delhi and three other cities over the past two years.

The confession followed his arrest on Monday on charges of raping and killing a three-year-old girl in a slum area of the city of Gurugram, near the capital, earlier this month.

“He used to first break the legs of the victims before attempting rape,” said Subhash Boken, an assistant sub-inspector and public relations officer with the Gurugram police. “Then he would murder them.”

A court on Tuesday granted police remand of the man for eight days, Boken said, adding that he did not yet have a lawyer.

The man, who has not been formally charged, said he mostly targeted community kitchens distributing free food to the poor.

He would target young girls who went to pick up food, offering them confectionery or money, and abduct them, Boken quoted him as having told police.

The latter case again highlights the number of young children who go missing every year in India and raises the question of whether the police have sufficient resources to investigate such crimes.

Indian newspapers often carry reports of brutal rapes and murders, many involving children, despite the adoption this year of tougher laws, some of which provide for capital punishment for the rape of children younger than 12.

“It is very unfortunate that such cases are still happening in India, despite the government framing a law and approving the death penalty for rape,” said Priti Mahara, an official of child rights organisation CRY.

“The police, government officials and society at large need to support the victims and their families.”

Additional reporting by Reuters