Urvashi Rautela Image Credit: AFP

Urvashi Rautela has reacted to the National Commission for Women (NCW) notice in regards to the IMG Ventures cas, and said that her official association with the firm was purely centred on rendering services at an event that happened in November, in the capacity of a celebrity jury.

People Against Rape in India (PARI) founder Yogita Bhayana filed a complaint against Sunny Verma, promoter of IMG Venture, alleging that he has been blackmailing and sexually assaulting a number of women on the pretext of giving them modelling opportunities through the company.

Rautela is among several Bollywood celebrities whose names have been linked with IMG Venture, with the company not responding to the allegations.

“In light of the shocking development and unfolding of scandalising allegations pressed on IMG Venture (our then client), I have been attracting a great deal of hatred and animosity from all quarters and have found myself to be at the receiving end of this disgraceful revelation,” Rautela said in a statement.

“My official association with the client was purely centered on rendering my services towards the on-ground finale event happening in November as the scope of a celebrity jury. I was in no capacity involved with the selection process, operations of the event, and neither is the knowledge of the same,” she added.

Rautela said that owing to the collaboration of many “industry friends” with this event, her business manager took the plunge and went ahead with the association.

“We are saddened to learn about the allegations made on the ownership of the event that surfaced recently on social media and was highly condemn such inhumane acts and behaviour that endangers the dignity and safety of our women.”

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Rautela added that she and her team have “terminated all our ties with the client with immediate effect.”

The former beauty queen says she empathises with all those candidates who have been allegedly victimised by the company and she expressed her solidarity and support towards them.

“I will be glad to assist them in any possible way and guide them better. I have always advocated and lent our voice for women’s rights and empowerment and hopefully, we can create a progressive and secure professional ecosystem for the women of our society,” said Rautela.

Case so far

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Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt. (File Photo: IANS) Image Credit: IANS

On August 6, the National Commission for Women issued fresh notices to Rautela, along with other Bollywood celebrities whose names have emerged in the case. These include filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, actors Esha Gupta and Mouni Roy, and TV actor Prince Narula. These celebrities were asked to record their statements in the case.

The fresh notices come after these celebrities, who allegedly promoted IMG Venture, failed to appear at the hearing before the commission, which it had scheduled for August 6.

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Actress Esha Gupta. (File Photo: IANS) Image Credit: IANS

Speaking to IANS over the phone, Bhayana, who filed the complaint, said: “I want to convey that if these people can unofficially ask IMG Venture 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.

“Many TV and film actors are also promoting his company in a video advertisement,” Bhayana’s complaint had said.

On August 6, Gupta tweeted to Smriti Irani, India’s Union Minister, for help in the case, saying she never received the summons.

“Dear @smritiirani ma’am, can you please help me with this issue. Why is this the first time m hearing about it through the tweets. If we do a paid promotion, it’s our work. Also the fact that I have yet received no notice [sic],” Gupta wrote in a tweet. “Respected @smritiirani ma’am, please help me with this situation. Just by tweeting and giving out in news a case cannot be made on false pretext. I don’t know the truth behind #NCW case, but to accuse me of something like is defamatory,” she added.

Meanwhile, entertainment portal Pinkvilla reported that Bhatt’s reps have said that he has not received any notice from NCW. He denied being associated with the company accused of harassment.