Police drop case that triggered India's #Metoo movement

Mumbai (AFP) –


Indian police said Thursday they had no evidence to support the allegations of sexual harassment made by an actress against a Bollywood star last year that sparked the country's #MeToo movement.

The case against multiple-award-winning actor Nana Patekar -- one of the few #MeToo cases in India to have been investigated by police -- was now closed, they said.

"There was no evidence that we could find against the accused," Mumbai police senior inspector Shailesh Pasalwar told AFP.

Former Miss Universe contestant Tanushree Dutta first alleged in 2008 that Patekar had touched her inappropriately during the making of a romantic comedy the same year.

She made no formal complaint at the time and no action was taken against Patekar, who has repeatedly denied the accusations.

But, emboldened by the global #MeToo campaign, Dutta repeated the allegations in an interview last summer and in October went to police in Mumbai to report the claim.

It triggered a belated #MeToo movement in India, which saw women share accounts of alleged harassment by several powerful men in the worlds of Bollywood, business, journalism, politics, comedy and even cricket.

Dozens of men lost their jobs -- including India's former junior minister M.J. Akbar after at least 20 women accused him of sexual harassment during his time as a newspaper editor.

Very few cases ended up being probed by police, however, and several accused tried to turn the tables on their accusers by suing them for defamation.

Akbar -- who denies the allegations against him -- has taken one of the complainants, Priya Ramani, to court.

Dutta said last year that she received legal notices from Patekar after repeating her claims against him.

In May, a Supreme Court panel dismissed a sexual harassment claim made by a former staff member against the country's top judge, Ranjan Gogoi, saying it lacked substance.