After singer Papon's allegedly kissed a minor girl contestant on Facebook live video that went viral, the &TV channel has removed the Moh Moh Ke Dhaage crooner from the jury panel of the reality singing show Voice of India Kids 2018. The channel termed the incident as "unfortunate" and condemned it unequivocally.
Here's the full text of the public statement issued by the channel on Papon.
"The Papon incident is unfortunate and is unequivocally condemned. The decision to not have Papon on the show has already been communicated. Anyone who fails to abide by our code of conduct will not be engaged by our network. We have faith in the judicial system to take the necessary actions that they deem fit. We have extended our full cooperation to the concerned authorities.
As a responsible broadcaster immediately after this incident was brought to our notice, an internal enquiry was initiated. Post the enquiry, instant support was extended towards the participants and their families. An on-call psychologist is available to offer counsel to the children and their parents and an external counsel has been appointed to address the situation.
We are committed to the well-being of our participants and would like to restate that a safe and secure environment is of utmost priority to us. All the parents send their children for participating in our shows with a deep level of trust. We truly value this trust and will do everything it takes to live up to this expectation."
Subhash Chandra, Rajya Sabha MP and Chairman of Essel Group & ZEE, also reacted strongly on Twitter while addressing the issue.
On incidence of Papon I have advised CMD of the Company to take stringent action not only against him but others involved. Papon is barred for ever from our group— Subhash Chandra (@subhashchandra) February 24, 2018
Papon’s already recorded shows have also been edited and he has been removed from the shows which will go on air today onwards— Subhash Chandra (@subhashchandra) February 24, 2018
Papon incident is unfortunate & must be unequivocally condemned, whatever the reason may be. I urge the authorities to take every action that they think deems fit to the law & let law take its due course.— Subhash Chandra (@subhashchandra) February 24, 2018
When the parents send their children for participating in reality shows, they bestow trust upon us, which we must never break. We are duty bound to treat every kid as ours and provide them safety and security.— Subhash Chandra (@subhashchandra) February 24, 2018
Majority of the child abuse cases go unreported as the child fails to understand between good & bad touch. The authorities are the best to decide in this case. I appreciate the petitioner for being vigilant & all the media houses who have been reporting about the story.— Subhash Chandra (@subhashchandra) February 24, 2018
After issuing a public apology, Papon stated on Twitter that he was stepping down as the judge on the show till the investigation is over.
"Since I am in no mental state to fulfill most of my professional obligations, I have decided to step down as a judge on the show till the matter in which I have been falsely implicated is fully resolved and the investigations are over. I have full faith in the judicial system and eventually, the truth will prevail. In the interim I would appreciate that my privacy is respected," reads his statement posted on Twitter.
Many Bollywood celebrities like Farah Khan, Raveena Tandon and Gauahar Khan slammed the singer for his actions on social media.
#papons legal representatives doing not good for him either,spoiling it further by making silly arguments,if it happened unintentionally and the girl moved her face,admit it happened,apologise,instead of giving it a “guru shishya” love spin,sounds repulsive.— Raveena Tandon (@TandonRaveena) February 24, 2018
Wasn't smothering a child's face with your palm rubbing color all over it for 4 secs enough as fatherly love, that u had to pull the child's face then to strategically peck her on the lip??? There was no wrong camera angle or the child moving her face mistakenly BTW ??#papon?— Gauahar Khan (@GAUAHAR_KHAN) February 23, 2018