Indian actor and model Pearl V Puri has been arrested on charges of rape and molestation of a minor. Puri, who starred in shows such as Naagin and Bepanah Pyaar, was taken into custody by Mumbai Police on Friday, June 4. The arrest is in connection to an alleged incident in 2019 in which Puri is accused of having molested and sexually assaulting a 5-year-old girl.
The Hindustan Times reports the incident is alleged to have taken place in October 2019 in Naigaon, Vasai, where Puri was filming. The victim was the daughter of one of Puri's co-stars. The minor victim's parents learned of the incident after the child complained of abdomen pain, after which her father, who had also worked with the actor, filed a complaint at the Versova police station. The case was later transferred to Waliv police, and it was found after a probe that "Puri had a role in the incident." Puri was then called into the police station and arrested under Section 376 AB (rape of woman under 12 years of age) of IPC and sections 4,8,12,19 and 21 of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) Act,2012.
Following his arrest, Puri was transferred to Thane Jail, where he was being kept under judicial custody. The actor's initial request for bail was denied by the Vasai court, Bollywood Hungama reported at the time. Following a scheduled hearing on Tuesday, June 15, Puri was granted bail. At the time, his counsel, Chetan Patil, confirmed Puri would be released from jail later that evening, adding, "we do not know on what grounds the bail has been granted to my client as we are awaiting the final order." Patil said, "recorded the statement under Section 164 of Code of Criminal Procedure(CrPC), 1973. We have also conducted Covid test on the accused and its report is awaited as per procedure." On that same day, the victim's mother was named as co-accused in the case, with her lawyer Swapna Kode saying in a statement, according to Times of India, "the reason given was she did not inform anyone in spite of knowing about the incident."
Amid Puri's arrest, many of those in the entertainment industry voiced their support for the actor. Pearl's Naagin 3 co-star Anita Hassanandani wrote in an Instagram post, "Woke up to some nonsensical news bout [Pearl V Puri] I know him! It is NOT true ... canNOT be true.... all lies. I'm sure there is more to it. And the truth will be out soon." She added the hashtag "I stand with Pearl." At this time, it does not appear that Puri has publicly commented on the case against him.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, you can contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or go to rainn.org