He was in some way a celebrity. As a co-director of a popular political satirical film from Bollywood he was regarded highly. Fortunately that did not prevent him from being convicted of raping a research scholar who came to him for help in her research.
A special fast track court on Saturday convicted filmmaker Mahmood Farooqui of raping a research scholar from the United States in Delhi last year. Additional Sessions Judge Sanjiv Jain found Farooqui — who had been on bail — guilty under IPC Section 376 (punishment for rape), and ordered that he be taken into judicial custody.
The court will hear arguments on sentencing on August 2. The offence of rape entails a minimum punishment of seven years’ rigorous imprisonment and a maximum punishment of imprisonment for life. As of Saturday evening, the detailed conviction order was still awaited.
Farooqui, co-director of the 2010 satirical comedy Peepli (Live), and an exponent of the centuries’ old art of Urdu storytelling called Dastangoi, was accused of raping the 30-year-old research scholar from Columbia University at his home in south Delhi’s Sukhdev Vihar on March 28, 2015.
A senior officer of the South-East district police said that according to the complainant, she first met Farooqui in the course of a visit to India in 2014.
She was pursuing a PhD at a leading American university, and a common friend allegedly put her in touch with Farooqui in Varanasi.
“After several meetings, Farooqui helped her gather information for her research, and they later became good family friends. She was known to both Farooqui and his wife,” the officer said.
According to the officer, the alleged incident occurred on March 26, 2015.. “The accused had invited the complainant to a party at his rented accommodation in Sukhdev Vihar, where two other persons, including a senior journalist, were present,” the complainant has allegedly told the police in her statement.
“After the party, the other two individuals left, but the accused allegedly asked the complainant to stay on until his wife arrived,” the officer said. “However, he allegedly sexually assaulted her. The accused’s wife arrived soon after, but the complainant left without telling her anything,” the officer said.
The woman apparently returned to the US around 10 days later.
Police sources said the complainant had subsequently sent some accusatory emails to Farooqui, to some of which he had replied, allegedly admitting his mistake, and asking to be forgiven. “After three months, the woman who was of Indian origin, came back to India and approached the US embassy. On June 19, she filed a complaint of sexual assault against Farooqui, and based on the complaint, a case was filed under IPC Section 376 (rape) at the New Friends Colony police station,” an officer said.
Though some justice was finally delivered there are several disturbing questions remaining.
In the past one year, rarely have we seen an unequivocal decrying of Farooqui’s crime. Even after the verdict there is an uncomfortable silence. People baying for Tarun Tejpal’s blood have been conspicuous by their absence from this particular scene. Their silence is good silence.
This silence operates on the principle of quid pro quo. It serves self-interest first and foremost.
This silence protects self-worth and strengthens the yarns that we weave with our righteousness. For, when we come out and say that one of us has erred and must be punished, we render ourselves vulnerable too.
We leave the security blanket of collectivism behind. We expose ourselves to relentless scrutiny and even unfounded jibes. It is best to be silent.
Farooqui is a man of impeccable education credentials from best of the institutions across the world, a custodian of cultural heritage, a proponent of meaningful cinema, in short, a blue-eyed boy in the intellectual circuit.
He may have erred in a moment of weakness but he surely does not deserve such ignominy. Let us be silent. His conviction will lead to smear campaign against liberals.
Let us be silent.
Many time it is this conspiracy of silence that prevent next rape victim from registering a complaint. It is this silence that encourages rapists in our midst.