Sexual harassment: Cops find no evidence against Indian actor

Bollywood actor Nana Patekar had been accused of touching an actress inappropriately.
Bollywood actor Nana Patekar had been accused of touching an actress inappropriately.

MUMBAI • Indian police said they had no evidence to support the allegations of sexual harassment made by an actress against a Bollywood star last year that sparked the country's #MeToo movement.

The case against multiple-award-winning actor Nana Patekar - one of the few #MeToo cases in India to have been probed by the police - was now closed, they said.

"There was no evidence that we could find against the accused," Mumbai police senior inspector Shailesh Pasalwar said on Thursday.

Former Miss Universe contestant Tanushree Dutta first alleged in 2008 that Patekar had touched her inappropriately during the making of a romantic comedy that year. She made no formal complaint at the time and no action was taken against Patekar, who has repeatedly denied the accusations.

But, emboldened by the global #MeToo campaign, Ms Dutta repeated the allegations in an interview last summer and, in October, made a police report in Mumbai over her claim.

It triggered a belated #MeToo movement in India, which saw women share accounts of alleged harassment by several powerful men in the worlds of Bollywood, business, journalism, politics, comedy and even cricket.

Dozens of men lost their jobs; one of them was former junior minister M. J. Akbar, after at least 20 women accused him of sexual harassment during his time as a newspaper editor. Very few cases ended up being probed by the police, and several of those accused tried to turn the tables on their accusers by suing them for defamation. Mr Akbar - who denies the allegations against him - has taken one of the complainants, Ms Priya Ramani, to court. Ms Dutta said last year that she received legal notices from Patekar after repeating her claims against him.

In May, a Supreme Court panel dismissed a sexual harassment claim made by a former staff member against the country's top judge, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, saying it lacked substance.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 16, 2019, with the headline 'Sexual harassment: Cops find no evidence against Indian actor'. Print Edition | Subscribe