#MeToo: Tanushree Dutta, Nana Patekar were standing several feet apart, key witnesses claimed

The key witnesses in the Tanushree Dutta and Nana Patekar case have claimed that the duo was standing several feet apart and both weren't dancing together.

According to Indian Express, the two key witnesses’ testimonies were crucial for police last week for filing a closure report, which dismissed allegations of sexual harassment and misbehaviour levelled by Dutta against Patekar. An actress, who was then an assistant choreographer working on the film Horn Ok Pleassss, told the police in her statement that Patekar was being taught dance steps for an item song. However, Patekar had told the choreographer Ganesh Acharya that he didn’t know how to dance, leading to lengthy rehearsals before he could get a hang of the steps. Dutta, meanwhile, who had been paid Rs 5 lakh to feature in the item song and was to be paid Rs 10 lakh more in post-dated cheques, had been practicing for her part since the start of the month and at the studio for the past three days.

On the day of the shoot, Patekar, Dutta and 300-400 backup dancers had taken their places to shot the song. The assistant choreographer said in her statement to the police, “Nana Pateker was standing behind Tanushree Dutta. There was a gap of several feet between them. We were standing next to the cameraman at the foot of the stage when the music started to play. 10-15 seconds later, Tansuhree Dutta suddenly walked away in anger. No one could understand what had happened,” reported Indian Express.

Another junior choreographer told police that Patekar and Dutta weren't dancing together and that no one had told her that the dance steps had been changed. The 19 witnesses the police examined in its investigation also did not back allegations made by Dutta against Patekar, Acharya, and the film director Rakesh Sarang. They were booked under Section 354 of the IPC for outraging the modesty of a woman, which is punishable with a two-year prison term or a fine or both and 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman).

Dutta's complaint against Patekar last year sparked a nationwide '#MeToo' movement on social media. The suburban Oshiwara police on Wednesday filed a 'B Summary' report before a metropolitan magistrate in Andheri. A 'B Summary' report is filed when police do not find any evidence against the accused person to file a charge sheet and seek trial. Dutta filed a complaint against Patekar in October 2018 in which she accused him of harassing and misbehaving with her while shooting a song on the sets of the film "Horn Ok Pleasss" in 2008.

She also alleged that during the shooting of the song sequence, Patekar inappropriately touched her even after she had clearly mentioned that she would not perform lewd, vulgar or uncomfortable steps. Based on her complaint, a case was registered against Patekar and three others for allegedly molesting Dutta on the sets of the movie. Besides Patekar, choreographer Ganesh Acharya, the film's producer Samee Siddiqui, and director Rakesh Sarang were also booked.

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