NEW DELHI — The National Commission for Women has issued fresh notices to Bollywood director Mahesh Bhatt, actors Urvashi Rautela, Esha Gupta, Mouni Roy and TV actor Prince Narula to record their statements against an accused for alleged blackmail and sexual assault of a number of women on the pretext of providing modelling opportunities through his company.
The fresh notices come after these celebrities, who allegedly promoted the company — IMG Ventures — failed to appear at the hearing before the commission which it had scheduled for August 6.
“NCW has taken serious note of their non-appearance. The meeting has been adjourned to the next date, i.e., on August 18 at 11.30 a.m. You will be sent formal notices again and non-appearance will be followed by action as per our procedures,” the commission said while initiating action on Thursday.
Initially, the commission had also summoned Bollywood actor Sonu Sood. However, a fresh notice was not issued to him as the actor responded to the commission clarifying his stand on the issue. Responding on Twitter, NCW chief Rekha Sharma tweeted, “He did come back to us and is cooperating.”
Speaking to IANS over the phone, People Against Rapes in India (PARI) founder Yogita Bhayana, who filed the complaint, said, “I want to convey that if these people can unofficially ask IMG Ventures to remove their videos from their website why did they not answer or reply to NCW in today’s hearing?”
“They are double-faced people who want to disassociate with Sunny Verma and his bad deeds and at the same time are afraid to say that they were associated with him in the past,” the social activist said.
According to the complaint, the accused Sunny Verma, promoter of IMG Ventures, had been blackmailing and sexually assaulting a number of women on the pretext of providing them modelling opportunities. “Many TV and film actors are also promoting his company in a video advertisement,” Bhayana’s complaint had said.
Bhayana in the complaint had also named various Bollywood celebrities including Mahesh Bhatt, Sonu Sood, Urvashi Rautela , Mouni Roy, Rannvijay Singh, Prince Narula and Esha Gupta.
The complaint mentions that to make it look genuine, his company was also charging an entry fee of Rs 2,950. Once the girls applied, they were allegedly persuaded by the female accomplices of Sunny Verma to submit their nude pictures in order to get better opportunities.
“After receiving the nude pictures and sometimes even before, Sunny used to get in touch with the girls to push them for completely nude pictures and videos. He also used to ask them to submit to his sexual desires if they were interested in modelling as a career or wish to win the contest,” the complaint said.
The complaint claimed that once Sunny Verma established a physical relationship with the girls, he used to blackmail them for regular sexual favours. Many girls from across the country have suffered sexual assault and mental harassment by Sunny and his accomplices.
In her complaint, Bhayana said, “I have now received several letters, texts and audio clips from several girls as proof of this modus operandi of Sunny Verma and IMG Ventures. The girls have given details of sexual harassment under the condition that their names and identities will not be revealed. They have also shared their chat screenshots and audio call records with Sunny Verma. The chats are full of demands of sexual favours from Sunny Verma.”
“We request NCW to take cognisance of our complaint and take appropriate action against Sunny Verma, his female accomplices, the partners of the company as well as against the Bollywood stars who are promoting IMG Ventures in spite of knowing everything,” it said.