The year-old #MeToo movement has long failed to take root in India, but Bollywood actress Tanushree Dutta’s accusations of sexual harassment against veteran actor Nana Patekar appears to be emboldening women to speak out at last.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi is one of the first politicians heading a political party to vocally express and strongly back the ongoing ‘Me Too’ movement.
This support from Gandhi follows several women who come forward to narrate their ordeal of sexual harassment and call out their violators on social media. In a tweet, the Congress President said that everyone must learn to treat women with respect and dignity.
Gandhi further added that
“The truth needed to be told “loud and clear” if change has to be ushered in the society. It’s about time everyone learns to treat women with respect and dignity. I’m glad the space for those who don’t, is closing. The truth needs to be told loud and clear in order to bring about change,” he said in his tweet.
It’s about time everyone learns to treat women with respect and dignity.
I’m glad the space for those who don't, is closing. The truth needs to be told loud and clear in order to bring about change. #MeToo
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) October 12, 2018
Gandhi has always repeatedly emphasised on the need of Empowering Women in India.
In February this year, rolling out Congress’ Mission 2019, party’s president Rahul Gandhi reached out to country’s women by sending a clear message that under his Raj, he wants more women to join the party.
“I want to see 50 per cent women at AICC sessions, in Parliament and among chief ministers of state governments,” said Rahul Gandhi, while addressing the biggest all women public meeting in Bijapur, Karnataka.
Through this public meeting – Stree Shakti Samavesh- Rahul Gandhi clearly outlined the policy of the Congress party as far women are concerned.
On the other hand, the BJP Govt is in distress over sexual harassment allegations against Union Minister MJ Akbar. Approximately nine women came out with stomach-churning accounts of sexual harassment at the hands of former journalist and presently junior minister in the ministry of external affairs MJ Akbar. However, the Centre is believed to be weighing its options on his continuance as a Union Minister. According to reports, a final call will be taken on his return from his overseas visit later this week. Meanwhile, Congress demanded the resignation of the junior minister of State in the Ministry of External Affairs.
Noted film actor Swara Bhasker tweeted affirming that Rahul Gandhi was the only national leader and politician who came out in support of #MeToo and the brave women who were claiming their stories and naming their perpetrators. She even thanked Rahul Gandhi and expressed her hope that other leaders too took note and followed suit. She ended her tweet by enforcing her belief of Zero tolerance towards sexual predators
The only national leader & politician to have come out in support of #MeToo and the brave women who are claiming their stories and naming their perpetrators. Thank you @RahulGandhi & hope other leaders take note & follow suit. Zero tolerance for sexual predators. #creditwheredue https://t.co/X9cNkJX1Rg
— Swara Bhasker (@ReallySwara) October 12, 2018
In recent days other Bollywood figures, a comedian, a best-selling author and top journalists have all found themselves accused of abusing their positions to behave improperly towards women.
As the movement gathers more steam, females from every industry are coming forward exposing more prominent names. Here are the Indian celebs who have been accused as part of the #MeToo campaign in India:
1. Varun Grover
Award-winning lyricist and writer Varun Grover was called out by a former student of Banaras Hindu University for misbehaving with her in 2001 on the pretext of working on a play.
Varun has denied the allegations with a tweet saying,
“I completely, totally, categorically deny all the allegations being made. The screenshot in question is untrue, misleading, and defamatory to say the least. Issuing a detailed statement soon.”
Here's my detailed statement about the completely fabricated, misleading, and defamatory allegations against me. Am absolutely willing to cooperate and clear my name. Let's not allow such agenda-driven tactics to derail this movement please. pic.twitter.com/VTFeIjygcl
— वरुण (@varungrover) October 9, 2018
2. Alok Nath
Vinta Nanda, a veteran writer-producer of the avant-garde 1990s’ show “Tara” fame, has accused actor Alok Nath — known for his “sanskaari” on-screen image — of sexually violating her almost two decades ago.
It is the escalating voices against sexual harassment across the world as part of the #MeToo wave that gave Nanda the courage to pen down the experiences which had left her “shattered”.
“He was an alcoholic, shameless and obnoxious but he was also the television star of that decade, so not only was he forgiven for all his bad behaviour, many of the guys would also egg him on to be his worst,” Nanda wrote, adding that he even harassed the show’s lead actress who was not interested in him.
Alok Nath responded to the allegations saying, “I am neither denying nor admitting to this. It (rape) must have happened, but the culprit must be somebody else. I do not want to talk much about it because that would mean stretching the issue.”
3. Nana Patekar
It all started with Tanushree Dutta talking about actor Nana Patekar’s inappropriate behaviour on the film set of Horn Ok Pleasss 10 years ago.
The actor who has consistently denied the accusation, canceled the press conference he had planned to address the sexual harassment allegation leveled against him.
4. Vivek Agnihotri
Dutta also alleged that filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri behaved inappropriately towards her while shooting a 2005 movie. Agnihotri’s lawyer denied the “frivolous” claims.
5. Vikas Bahl
Kangana Ranaut, an actress who worked with Bahl on “Queen”, his 2014 hit film touching on female empowerment, came out and said that the director would “bury his face in my neck and hold me really tight”.
Vikas was accused of sexual misconduct at a 2015 Phantom Films party in Goa. Over the last weekend, it was announced that Phantom Films, co-owned by Vikas Bahl along with Anurag Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane and Madhu Mantena, had been dissolved over allegations against Bahl.
6. Chetan Bhagat
Chetan Bhagat, one of India’s top-selling authors, got himself embroiled in the movement when a woman shared screenshots of WhatsApp conversations between them. The author then went on to issue an apology on Facebook.
7. Rajat Kapoor
Actor Rajat Kapoor has been called out for alleged sexual harassment on Twitter with two women accusing him of inappropriate behaviour.
One journalist shared details of a telephonic interview in which Mr Kapoor allegedly asked her if she was “As sexy as she sounds” and “tell me your vital stats.”
Rajat posted an apology on Twitter saying,
“All my life I have tried to be a decent man, to do the right thing. If however, I have slipped and through my actions or words caused pain or hurt or trauma to absolutely anybody, please accept my apology. I am sorry from the bottom of my heart – and sad that I was the cause of this hurt to another human being. If there is one thing more important to me than even my work, it is to be a good human being. And I have tried to be that person. And now, I will try harder.”
All my life I have tried to be a decent man, to do the right thing.
If however, I have slipped and through my actions or words
caused pain or hurt or trauma to absolutely anybody, please accept my
— Rajat Kapoor (@mrrajatkapoor) October 7, 2018
I am sorry from the bottom of my heart- and sad that I was the cause of this hurt
to another human being.
If there is one thing more important to me than even my work,
it is to be a good human being.
And I have tried to be that person.
And now, I will try harder.
— Rajat Kapoor (@mrrajatkapoor) October 7, 2018
8. Kailash Kher
A female journalist has accused singer Kailash Kher of harassment. She said,
“This creep kept his hand on my thigh.”
In his defence, Kailash said in a statement to IANS,
“For all those who know me and have come across me, will know how much I respect humanity, especially women, even more for the ones who work in media since their work is difficult.”
“I am almost all the time in my own simple world, but in case anyone has taken or thought something differently about anything, then it is my sincere apology. My devotion to music makes me who I am and I am thankful for all the love and support,” he said.
09. Suhel Seth
Another power packed name that has popped up under the #MeTooIndia Campaign is Suhel Seth, author and a Managing Partner of consultancy firm Counselage India. The person has anonymously accused socialite Seth of being a “creep“, recounting an alleged shocking incident from August 2010.
10. Aditi Mittal
Stand-up comedienne Kaneez Surka has accused popular comic Aditi Mittal of forcefully kissing her and putting her “tongue in my mouth” while she was hosting a show in 2016.
Aditi has immediately apologised following Surka’s revelation and said that it was a “joke”.
Surka took to Twitter on Wednesday and wrote a long post saying that Mittal, who has been backing women’s voices in the wake of the #MeToo movement, forcefully kissed her without her consent during the show in Mumbai’s Andheri Base.
— Kaneez Surka (@kaneezsurka) October 10, 2018
Editors of Indian Newspapers too step down after #MeToo allegations
Apart from celebrities from the film and entertainment industry, editors and journalists from the media have also come under the scanner for sexual misconduct.
Journalist Prashant Jha stepped down on Monday as chief of bureau and political editor of Hindustan Times and the media house looking into the allegations of sexual misconduct against him.
The allegations concerning the media have surfaced over the past few days with several names, including some prominent ones, being mentioned in the social media. Journalist Sidharth Bhatia issued a statement rubbishing allegations against him.
Bhatia, a founder Editor of The Wire, said in his statement that he could not recall either the two women who had made the allegations or the incident they had mentioned. “I forcefully deny the allegations,” he said, adding that if the complainant comes up with further details, he was prepared to face an inquiry.
Several other allegations against senior journalists were made on the social media. Former DNA Editor-in-Chief Gautam Adhikari and TOI‘s Hyderabad Resident Editor K.R. Sreenivas also rubbished allegations against them. Allegations have also been made against Mayank Jain of Business Standard.