More than a century ago, in French literary legend Guy de Maupassant’s classic story called The Piece of String, the protagonist Maitre Hauchecorne is falsely accused of having stolen a man’s pocketbook. He had actually merely bent down to pick up a piece of string, but no one believes him—not even after the pocketbook is found and returned. Whole life, Hauchecorne tried explaining that he was not guilty and finally died of depression.
A similar fate is seemingly looming over life and career of Singer Papon alias Angarag Mahanta, son of legendary folk artist Late Khagen Mahanta and Archana Mahanta. The controversy of the video clip showing the singer kissing a Minor girl in television, which both the young girl as well as the singer claims as an act of normal affection and misunderstanding to people, is spreading like fire. This story, however, seems to be hyped up much more than needed.
The video appeared on 20th February and the first complaint was made on 22nd by the complainant. Immediately after the complaint was filed, there was Media and Cameras waiting, meaning the media was pre-informed and planned. The complaint was made under section 7 and 8 of the POCSO Act, 2012 with the notion that this was a sexual assault of the minor by Papon. The act actually states very well that a sexual abuse is considered when the accused is found to be making advances to touch inappropriate body parts or an act intended in having intercourse with the victim. In this case, both the minor girl as well as her parents have declined that Papon had any such advances or intentions.
The matter is now with the honourable court to decide and we all need to respect it and wait for the judgement, but the media has given their verdict already and created public opinion against the singer. Both Papon and the minor child seems to have been victimized by a third party at the moment, without the law giving any conscience. The way Indian Media is showing notoriety by using abusive twitter hashtags from the media house’s official Twitter handle proves they were well planned to destroy the artist in a staged controversy.
It is strange to see that when the Nation has some many major issues, including the scandal of Nirav Modi amounting to millions of tax payer’s money, the media barons such as Arnab Goswami has been making this as the most important Prime time issue. Is it always a coincidence that every time some big scandal or issue of national importance is unearthed; Media always creates a fuss of something else to divert public attention?
Media has literally given their judgment, created mass opinion through shouting at top of their voice in prime time talk shows, without caring for the court to make any proceedings. It would be a good question to ask if we need courts anymore then!
Moreover, kissing kid contestants in reality show was never been an issue for anyone in this India until the advocate filed the complaint against Angarag Mahanta. Lots a time we have witnessed lady mentors or judge kissed minor boy contestants, but none bothered it as sexual assault.
The above two photos from reality shows raised some valid question over Papon’s controversy. Most people raised the questions that, “when a lady mentor or judge kisses a boy child, then none bothered. When a male judge or mentor kissed, it falls into POCSO! Law should be equal to all.”
While Papon and both families of the accused and the minor girl had pled innocent, everyone including Papon’s fans as well as those who are hating him at the moment is anxious to see what the court has to say in this matter. There are several who are citing that Papon’s behaviour was inappropriate for the Indian society.
If the case is actually considered by the court as a right charge and Papon is punished by law, it will be actually established that the poor innocent minor girl was assaulted by the singer. The same Indian society is unfortunately infamous for always making mockery or insulting of the victims of sexual abuse in a long run. We shall not forget that we live in the society where there are often gossips and lewd comments one had to hear such as “Look, it is that girl whom Papon….” with people exchanging cunning smiles that inflicts continuous mental trauma on the victim. Whether or not it is established by law that Papon is guilty, the same limelight will also haunt the minor girl and her family. Are we ready to stand by the minor girl all her life, when she grows old and protect her from the side comments made on her behind her back by the same society?
Priyankan Goswami is the Editor of Times of Assam’s Political Analysis section. He is also founder member and member of the Executive board of Times of Assam.
By Academic Priyankan Goswami is MBA & Mechanical Engineer.