Neha Maheshwri and Seema Mattoo (BOMBAY TIMES; May 9, 2017)

Barely a few days after the Mumbai Sessions Court acquitted singer Ankit Ti wari in a 2014 rape case citing lack of evidence, the complainant said that she was planning to move the High Court to reopen the case. Talking to BT last week (edition dated May 3), she said that her decision was prompted by the post-acquittal statements made by Ankit and his brother, Ankur. According to the complainant, the brothers had signed a document promising that they would not speak about the case or her in the media.

Now, Ankit has reacted to her claim saying that he had never signed any document. He also denied being in a relationship with the woman or committing to marriage. Ankit and Ankur spoke to BT about the trauma of the three-yearlong trial and more...

Ankit says, “I never spoke about the case during the trial. I opened up only after I was acquitted by the honourable court. And even then, all I said was that I had complete faith in the judiciary. Having said that, we haven't given her any written acknowledgement. I first met her during Durga Puja celebrations in 2013. We were introduced by a mutual acquaintance and exchanged numbers. Then we started meeting as friends and going out for coffee. From my side, it was pure friendship. There was no shaadi ki baat. In fact, she had lied to me about her marital status, but since I was not romantically interested in her, it didn't matter. There was no physical intimacy between us. This feels like a film script. Ek script nayi nayi taiyyar kee jaa rahi hai. Her version has changed at least four times.“ Ankit adds, “The first notice that I received was different from the FIR, which was again different from what was mentioned before the court. And now, all of it is different from what is being reported. Rape is a serious offence and it becomes even more serious when it involves a celebrity. It is to be noted that she lodged the complaint only after I became popular.“

Talking about the three-year-long trial, the composer-singer says, “It was extremely tough. I faced many problems and lost out on projects. I was a very positive person till this incident occurred. It also made me realise the value of family. I could not face my parents; when the case was going on, I didn't speak at all. I spoke only after my acquittal, but I'm being put to trial even now. I have no grudges or complaints against her or anyone else. It's unfortunate that people are believing a scripted story and that too, after my acquittal. Main khud ko toh sambhaal loonga, but mummy daddy ko kaise sambhaaloon?“ About the complainant's allegations that she had supported him financially during his days as a struggler, Ankit says, “My struggle has been graceful. Yes, I have taken money from family, but never from outsiders.“

Ankit says that he wants to restart life and his career on a positive note. “All I know is that I have to work hard and get cracking again, which I will. My priority is my work. I am shattered, but can't let my family see it. I have to keep smiling for their sake. After this incident, I am scared to even meet friends who are girls. However, they supported me during the trial. In fact, they still come home to meet me since I don't go out much and was never the partying kind. I am not interested in anyone and will let my mother decide about my marriage.“

Ankit's brother Ankur, who was also accused of threatening the complainant, says that contrary to her claims, she never visited Ankit's parents with a marriage proposal. Ankur says, “She could have visited our parents in Kanpur as a friend, but it is not on record. Why are we being asked about it now? All these complaints started only after Ankit became popular. I don't want to react to someone's cooked-up story. Kal sadak se uth kar koi bhi kuchh bhi bolega toh main apna kaam dekhunga ki answer doonga? The latest development has affected us, especially since we have been acquitted.“

Rizwan Merchant, who is defending the Ankit and Ankur, says, “The complainant's problem is that she doesn't want to be declared hostile, but she has stepped in the witness box once and told the court that Ankit and she were just friends. She said that they knew each other and used to go out for parties. If she now claims that she was pressured by the other party to take the case back, why didn't she complain to the court at that time itself? Had that been the case, any court would have cancelled the bail and they would have been taken into custody. There was no physical relationship at all and that's been our line of defence. Also, there is no mention of rape in the first handwritten complaint submitted by her. In that, she has mentioned consensual relationship. However, we have not even admitted to that. And if you say consensual, it can't be rape. And if it was rape, it couldn't have been consensual. There appears to be no ground for reopening this case.“