Mumbai: Singer-composer Papon, accused of ‘inappropriately kissing’ a contestant in a children’s reality show, has apologised but at the same time has blamed the controversy on ‘faulty camera angles and accident’ and said he feels ‘victimized for no fault of mine’.
The 41-year-old Assamese singer, who is a mentor and judge on Voice India Kids along with singers Shaan and Himmesh Reshammiya, was caught on a Facebook livestream smearing Holi colours on an 11-year-old girl, grabbing her face and kissing her.
Immediately after, he is seen turning around and requesting someone to edit the footage, reports NDTV.
‘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,’ says the singer.
The video has gone viral and was looped by TV channels on Friday. Supreme Court lawyer Runa Bhuyan has 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 the singer has ‘committed sexual assault’.
‘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 colors 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 girl participating in reality shows across India,’ her complaint said.
She also suggested that guidelines need to be set up to protect children from ‘such assaults’ in reality shows.
In a statement in the evening, Papon said he was an ‘extremely affectionate and expressive’ person.
‘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,’ he said.
‘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 our families are being destroyed forever, just by people jumping to conclusions.’
The contestant’s father sided with Papon, calling him a ‘father figure’ to his daughter, and requested the media not to press on with the controversy.
‘He has always encouraged her to pursue her dreams. He doesn’t differentiate amongst the children. What you saw in the video is not intentional. It was just a moment of affection that is being portrayed otherwise,’ he said.