Indian police have seized 48 terabytes of ‘mostly adult’ images and videos during a raid on the home of Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty as part of a probe into her husband’s alleged connections to porn production ring.
Shetty’s husband businessman Raj Kundra was arrested last week by police in Mumbai after allegedly luring a woman into making an X-rated film with the promise of an acting job.
Kundra’s custody has been extended until July 27. Police said they “have sufficient evidence” that the 45-year-old is “the key conspirator” in a case involving the creation and publication of adult films via internet apps. He has denied all allegations.
During a search on Friday, police seized 48 terabytes of images and videos from Shilpa Shetty’s home. Times of India reported that the police are now seeking to clone her phone and may also bring her in for a second round of questioning.
Shetty, 46, told police during questioning that she believed her husband was innocent and claimed his co-accused Pradeep Bakshi was the one involved with mobile app ‘HotShots’, which allegedly streamed pornographic content.
Shetty said she was “unaware of the exact nature of the content” on the app, but described it as “erotica” rather than pornography.
Alleged director Tanveer Hashmi, who has denied ever meeting Kundra, described the clips as “soft porn… short films of 20-25 minutes, which had nudity”.
Mr Hashmi said: “I cannot judge anybody and only the law will decide. I cannot comment on it but the only thing is there are several platforms that are making bold content and they are not questioned.”
Daily Mail reported that four of Kundra’s employees have become witnesses in the case after telling police they were asked to delete clips from Hotspots. The app was eventually removed from the Google Play Store and Apple Store.
Investigators are probing whether Kundra used two or three other apps as part of a adult content production ring.
Kundra is accused of luring women into making a porn film, using the promise of getting them an acting job. Once the woman agreed to the ‘acting job’ producers would change the script and force them to perform sex acts, police told the Times.
If they refused, they were told they had to pay for the shoot, often held in a rented house on the outskirts of the city.
Police are now investigating whether Shetty benefitted from her husband’s alleged links to the pornographic film business as part of her position as director of his firm, Viaan. She resigned from the company after the allegations came to light but police are probing if money generated from adult content ended up in her accounts.
Shetty reportedly wept during questioning, complaining to police her reputation had been destroyed by the allegations.
Kundra allegedly set up a film company with his brother, registering it in the UK to evade Indian cyber laws. He reportedly left the company and has denied any wrongdoing, while his lawyer has objected to classifying the content as pornography.
In a court hearing on Thursday, Abad Ponda suggested the content in question did not show sexual intercourse, and was just vulgar content.
“Police is following what web series are doing these days – vulgar content. But that’s not really classified as porn. Nothing in this remand shows that two people actually indulged in act of intercourse. If it’s not actual intercourse, it’s not classified as porn,” Ponda told the court, according to NDTV.
In India, publishing or transmitting ‘obscene’ material including porn is illegal under a 2015 law and punishable by up to seven years in jail. According to the adult site Pornhub, the nation of 1.3 billion was its third largest source of traffic in 2018, behind the United States and Britain.
Model-actress Poonam Pandey has also reportedly filed a case against the businessman and his colleagues, claiming they illegally used her content.
Shilpa Shetty Kundra is an actress, film producer, dancer, author, businesswoman and former model who predominantly appeared in Hindi-language films.
She shot to fame in the UK in 2007 when she won the fifth series of reality TV series Celebrity Big Brother – during which she became caught up in race row involving Jade Goody, Jo O’Meara and Danielle Lloyd.
Shetty married businessman Raj Kundra in 2009. The couple live in Mumbai with two children.