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NCW 'temporarily' closes sexual harassment case against Anu Malik, Sona Mohapatra vows to fight on

The National Commission for Women has reportedly closed the file of complaints against music composer Anu Malik following lack of 'communication' by the complainant and 'substantial evidence'.

Shriram Iyengar

National Commission for Women (NCW) chairperson Rekha Sharma has said in a report that the NCW has 'temporarily' closed the file on complaints of sexual harassment against music composer Anu Malik.

Malik had been accused of sexual harassment and improper behaviour by several women, including singers Sona Mohapatra, Shweta Pandit, Neha Bhasin, and Caralisa Monteiro.

The allegations first emerged in 2018 at the height of the #MeToo movement in India, with Mohapatra and Pandit making the first accusations. While Malik denied the charges, he stepped down from season 10 of the reality TV show Indian Idol.

After the #MeToo movement faded into the background in 2019, the composer was in the process of being reinstated to his position as a judge on season 11 of Indian Idol. However, the uproar over his reinstatement forced Malik to send an open letter announcing that he was stepping down from the show 'till his name is cleared'.

A Mumbai Mirror newspaper report quoted a letter from the NCW to Madhuri Malhotra, head, standards and practices, Sony Pictures Network India Private Limited, saying the 'commission has closed the case due to lack of communication/substantial evidence sought from complainant'.

The report stated that the letter is dated 3 January 2020 and is in response to a query from the network on 6 December 2019. 

The newspaper also quoted Rekha Sharma, NCW chairperson, as saying, "Responding to a complaint, we wrote to the complainant. She said she was travelling and whenever she returns, she will visit us. We waited for around 45 days. We had also asked for some documents, but after that, she never responded."

The paper further quoted Sharma as saying, "The complainant had informed us that there are more women who have complaints against Anu Malik, and we told her that they can also file complaints with us, but none of them has responded yet. This is not a permanent closure of the case. If the complainant comes forward or brings more evidence or submits any kind of document, we can reopen it."

Cinestaan.com reached out to the NCW office in New Delhi, but an official refused to give any information. "This is a matter of confidentiality, and we cannot give out any information," he said.

Soon after the newspaper report, singer Mohapatra tweeted that the NCW's claim that she has not furnished any details or evidence is untrue.

"Please note India, this is untrue," she wrote. "I have painstakingly collated multiple testimonies of several women and mailed the same to the NCW. Requested to talk to the chairperson. Only received terse and unkind one-liners in return. Zero concern and no real interest in women."

Responding to Cinestaan.com on WhatsApp, the singer, who is in France as a guest for the launch of an ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) satellite, rejecting the NCW chairperson's statement that she had not responded in 45 days.

"That statement of the NCW chairperson is wrong," Mohapatra texted back, adding that she "collated multiple testimonies painstakingly" and mailed them to the NCW within a few days of them asking for supporting evidence.

She also repeated her claim that she had requested to speak to Rekha Sharma but had only received a cryptic one-line response on email. "They made no effort to engage or connect with either me or Neha Bhasin or Shweta Pandit amongst several testimonies that were in the public domain," Mohapatra alleged.

The singer said she believes in the due process of law and the systems in place for the purpose but questioned the delay by the NCW to reach out and talk to the complainants.

"They could have shown some interest to write back or talk about the matter and actually meet us," she said. "They didn’t. What more documents can you provide in cases of sexual harassment and assault? Can we record or shoot it while it happens? Is that even possible?"

The singer said, "The ominous manner in which they communicated in one line scared me. I’ll be honest. It is like I was the criminal in their eyes. I dread to think about how they would treat women who don’t have a voice or means to tell the world anything.

"So many victims and their families are living their trauma every time a person like Anu Malik flaunts himself on national TV.  NCW should have at least tried to talk with a few of us. It is the least we can expect from the system." 

Despite the apparent setback, she wrote that she was "not one to give up the fight". In her message, Mohapatra said, "This is not over. I am not one to give up the good fight easily. I’ll take it to my funeral pyre if required. This was the only ray of hope for a whole movement in India where all perpetrators went scot free. Sony TV was a partner in crime by riding on this for publicity for their show as a marketing theme. India will not forgive them or Anu Malik and his supporters this easily. We will fight this together." 

Related topics

Sexual harassment