MP said he was only trying to protect her from the jostling crowd

The snowballing controversy over Malayalam film actor Swetha Menon’s allegation that Congress MP N. Peethambara Kurup had physically misbehaved with her here on Friday has lost its momentum somewhat with the actor withdrawing her complaint late Sunday evening.

In a message e-mailed to media institutions, Ms. Menon said she was withdrawing her complaint, taking also into account the apologies tendered by Mr. Kurup. She had no complaint that she was humiliated, Ms. Menon said.

(“I have decided to drop my complaint because Mr. Peethamabara Kurup, MP, personally apologised to me,” Ms. Menon told The Hindu over telephone from Bangalore. “He has also been apologising publicly too. In such a context, I have decided to withdraw my complaint.”)

Earlier in the day, the Kollam East police had, based on a statement given by her, registered a case under non-bailable provisions against Mr. Kurup and another person. The case had been registered under Sections 354 (Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) and 354 (a) (sexual harassment) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 119 (a) (sexual gestures or acts degrading the dignity of women at public places) of the Kerala Police Act.

The incident had reportedly occurred when Ms. Menon arrived here to attend the President’s Trophy Boat Race on Friday. The actor, who was the chief guest, had alleged that Mr. Kurup and another identifiable person had physically misbehaved with her as she alighted from her car and moved to the venue. The harassment continued till she left the venue, Ms. Menon had told the media.

The police swung into action after office-bearers of the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) filed a complaint with it seeking investigation into her charges. A police team from the Kollam East station met Ms. Menon at her residence in Kochi on Sunday morning and filed the FIR before a local magistrate by evening. A copy of the FIR was also handed over to the Kollam City Police Commissioner Debesh Kumar Behera.

Mr. Kurup had strongly refuted the charge and said that his attempt at the venue was only to protect the actor as she made her way through the heavy crowd. He had also expressed sorrow for any pain he might have caused to Ms. Menon. Several Congress and United Democratic Front (UDF) leaders also had come out in his support.

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