The Mumbai Police has summoned The Viral Fever (TVF) founder Arunabh Kumar on Wednesday, after a woman claiming to be a former TVF employee, lodged an FIR with the police, reports VCCircle. Kumar was charged under IPC Section 354(A) which deals with punishment for sexual harassment and IPC Section 509 for “insulting the modesty of a woman.” MediaNama has written to TVF for a comment and will update the story once the respond.
The police said in a statement that they are yet to investigate the matter after procuring a full statement from Kumar. A Hindustan Times report said that the complaints filed against Kumar are non-bailable offences; police also said that they would “oppose” any bail plea submitted to them. The HT report added that Mumbai Police went looking for Kumar at TVF’s office premises, but he wasn’t found. According to the woman who filed the complaint, the alleged harassment incident took place back in May 2016 when she used to work with Kumar.
The alleged sexual harassment incident came to light after an anonymous Medium user named Indian Fowler accused Kumar of sexually harassing her at the workplace. The post is now taken down from Medium (Here is a cached version). However, TVF immediately reacted in a statement saying that “the article is completely ludicrous and defamatory against TVF and its team. All the allegations made against TVF and its team in the article are categorically false, baseless and unverified.”
Below is a timeline of events leading to the FIR:
–March 12: Medium user “Indian Fowler” publishes a post claiming that she faced sexual harassment from Kumar while working with him at TVF .
–March 13-14: Multiple women, including prominent director Reema Sengupta, had come forward outlining complaints alleging that they too had faced harassment from Kumar.
–March 14: In a Facebook post, Nidhi Bisht, actress and writer at TVF, defended Kumar and encouraged women to come forward and file a formal complaint regarding misconduct by Kumar.
–March 16: An FIR was filed against Kumar by a lawyer named Rizwan Siddiquee under IPC sections 354, 354-A, 354-D and 509.
–March 18: TVF said in a statement to MediaNama that a special team is looking into the complaints raised on social media. “We are committed to getting to the bottom of these allegations…we have an ICC Committee set up in each location… We recognize that we should have handled that response better. However, it is a fact that we have found no records of any such person on our pay roll, in that given time period, as described in the (Medium) blog.,” TVF added.
–March 28: Day later after Siddiquee’s complaint, Mumbai Police said that they might close the case since no woman had come forward with a formal complaint. More at India Today.
–March 31: A 26-year old woman files a new FIR against Kumar with the Mumbai Police. Charges against Kumar will be non-bailable, police told Hindustan Times.