Co-director of Peepli (Live), Mahmood Farooqui, has been arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a US-based woman around three months ago.
The woman, a 30-year-old research scholar of Indian origin, approached the Delhi Police along with a senior official of the US Embassy on Friday to file an FIR. Farooqui was called in for questioning on Saturday, and was subsequently arrested and produced in court, which sent him to 14 days judicial custody.
The woman has recorded her statement under Section 164 CrPC before a magistrate.
On Sunday, Farooqui’s wife, the filmmaker Anusha Rizvi with whom Farooqui co-directed Peepli (Live), issued a statement saying that the complaint against her husband was ‘manipulated and false’, and that they were “determined to fight” it out.
A senior officer of the South-East district police said that according to the complainant, she first met Farooqui in the course of a visit to India in 2014.
She was pursuing a PhD at a leading American university, and a common friend allegedly put her in touch with Farooqui in Varanasi.
“After several meetings, Farooqui helped her gather information for her research, and they later became good family friends. She was known to both Farooqui and his wife,” the officer said.
According to the officer, the alleged incident occurred on March 26 this year. “The accused had invited the complainant to a party at his rented accommodation in Sukhdev Vihar, where two other persons, including a senior journalist, were present,” the complainant has allegedly told the police in her statement.
“After the party, the other two individuals left, but the accused allegedly asked the complainant to stay on until his wife arrived,” the officer said. “However, he allegedly sexually assaulted her. The accused’s wife arrived soon after, but the complainant left without telling her anything,” the officer said.
The woman apparently returned to the US around 10 days later.
Police sources said the complainant had subsequently sent some accusatory emails to Farooqui, to some of which he had replied, allegedly admitting his mistake, and asking to be forgiven. “After three months, the woman came back to India and approached the US embassy. On June 19, she filed a complaint of sexual assault against Farooqui, and based on the complaint, a case was filed under IPC Section 376 (rape) at the New Friends Colony police station,” an officer said.
Police sources said Farooqui had denied writing any emails to the woman. The communication produced by the complainant had been sent for forensic analysis, they said.
In her statement, Farooqui’s wife Anusha Rizvi said, “A complaint has been registered against Mahmood Farooqui. The moment he heard about it he presented himself at the concerned police station. He was thereafter taken into custody. The complaint is manipulated and false. We don’t want to make any further comments on the matter because the case is under investigation. We will wait for the court’s decision where the actual truth of the matter will come out. In the meanwhile we are thankful for the show of support from friends, colleagues and well-wishers. We are determined to fight this till the reality is presented before the people. We are very sure of it.”