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Archives for : October2018

Singer Abhijeet Says #MeToo Accusers Are Only Fat, Ugly Women #WTFnews

At one point, the news anchor interviewing singer Abhijeet Bhattacharya was forced to call the singer’s response as “textbook misogyny”. But believe me, it was way, way worse than that.

In the past few days, the #MeToo movement has been a sort of fumigation of the pestilence that has infected different industries in India, whether it’s entertainment, journalism or the corporate world.

And you can say, it was a long time coming.

Image Source

What began with Tanushree Dutta‘s bold move to call out her alleged harasser Nana Patekar after a decade unleashed a tidal wave that has been washing away sexual predators of all kinds.

From comedian Utsav Chakraborty to director Vikas Bahl, from actor Rajat Kapoorto journalist Gautam Adhikari, from the sanskaari babuji Alok Nath to Minister M J Akbar—the allegations can make one sick to their stomach.

Adding another name to that list, a flight attendant on Tuesday alleged that Bollywood singer Abhijeet Bhattacharya sexually harassed her.

According to Indian Express, the incident occured some 20 years ago in a pub in Kolkata where the woman alleges that Abhijeet was “almost kissing and nibbling me on my left ear.”

However, when approached by the media to respond to these allegations, Abhijeet Bhattacharya managed to make an even more ridiculous statement than the response from fellow accused Alok Nath.

We weren’t sure if such a travesty was possible, but here’s what Abhijeet had to say to Indian Express about the incident that happened two decades ago:

“I WASN’T BORN AT THAT TIME.”

To put things into perspective, that came from a man who is 60 years of age. And it makes Shakti Kapoor’s “I was a kid then” remark about the Tanushree Dutta incident in 2009 sound like a mature statement!

“Somebody told me over the call. I was not born at that time. I have never gone to pubs in my life. You’ll never find me at any page 3 or filmy parties. My name sells. If someone’s benefiting from it, good. Sometimes earning their bread and butter with my name, it’s fine.”

 

We’d be damned if the mockery ended with just that comment!

The singer went all the way to discredit the #MeToo movement and insult the survivors who were calling their harassers out!

“I DON’T KNOW AGAINST WHOM SHOULD I TAKE ACTION. WHY SHOULD I GIVE ATTENTION TO THAT PERSON? YOU ARE GIVING IT IMPORTANCE NOT ME.”

If you feel like the above response deserves a round of applause, hold it! Because the video of his interview might just be deserving of a standing ovation!

Despite the correspondent’s repeated attempts to remind Abhijeet that the matter wasn’t a joke and his comments were downright degrading to the survivors, the singer continues to toot his “I don’t care” horn and insult the women.

TIMES NOW

@TimesNow

‘Listen to me, I don’t care about all this’, says Singer Abhijeet Bhattacharya in conversation with TIMES NOW’s @siddhantvm Jolts India

His repeated usage of the words ‘fat’ and ‘ugly’ for the survivors has left everyone stumped, including a panel of women and the moderator who were discussing it on live television!

TIMES NOW

@TimesNow

‘Would he (Abhijeet Bhattacharya) have liked these allegations coming in from prettier women’, says @neetipalta, Comedian Jolts India

The entire charade might just give you the idea that it is not the women, but rather the accused men with their absurd responses that are seeking attention. Or maybe trying to divert it from their alleged crimes? Either way, these ridiculous statements are doing them no good. Because right now, a lot of people are simply thinking…

TIMES NOW

@TimesNow

‘Listen to me, I don’t care about all this’, says Singer Abhijeet Bhattacharya in conversation with TIMES NOW’s @siddhantvm Jolts India pic.twitter.com/af4ISxhIOP

Pooja Mallick@poojappm30

his conduct shows, the woman might be true, what a disappointment for d society, and as a man.

Indeed, a colossal disappointment.

Singer Abhijeet Denies Harassment Allegations, Says #MeToo Accusers Are Only Fat, Ugly Women

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Why didn’t she speak up then?’: 8 questions on the ‘Me Too’ movement answered

There are many who are questioning survivors about their stories, so we made a list to help you understand #MeToo better.

The #MeToo movement came to India in 2017 when law student Raya Sarkar compiled a list of alleged sexual harassers in the Indian academia. The idea of women speaking up years after the alleged incident and even making these accusations anonymously threw up several questions – and over a year later, they’re still in the air.

The last time around, however, the debates and conversations mostly happened in Liberal Arts spaces, social media and a section of the mainstream media. In this fresh round of #MeToo, men in stand-up comedy, cinema, politics and journalism have been accused. Their high profiles and presence in the public eye have meant that the questions that were asked in 2017 are being asked again, much more loudly, about the survivors.

Here are some FAQs that we’ve put together to help you understand #MeToo better.

1. Why did she not speak when the incident happened?

If this question is specific to Tanushree Dutta’s allegation about Nana Patekar which triggered the new bout of #MeToo, you should know that the actor had spoken up about it in 2008 as well. She had also filed a police complaint. However, nothing came out of it. Despite video footage of her car being attacked (which she said was at the behest of Nana Patekar), Tanushree’s allegation was dismissed as a “tantrum”.

Tanushree’s experience shows us why so many women do not choose to speak up when an incident of sexual harassment at the workplace happens. Nobody believes them. They are tagged as ‘trouble makers’ or ‘tantrum throwers’. They end up paying the price for speaking up in a patriarchal society – their careers, personal lives and reputations.

2. Why is she speaking now?

The #MeToo movement is one of solidarity and sisterhood. The premise of the movement is that survivors will be believed and their stories will be heard with empathy. This has given a lot of women the courage to speak up about what happened to them after so many years.

It’s not only cathartic for survivors to share their stories and begin to heal, it also serves as a warning to other women who may still be working with the concerned man.

3. Why does she want to be anonymous when she’s naming the perpetrator?

Many of the men who have been accused of sexual harassment at the workplace are in a position of power to influence the career of a survivor. If you go through the stories that women have been sharing in the #MeToo movement, you will understand how this happens – the perpetrator may isolate the woman colleague at the workplace, ensure that her work is undermined, stop promotions and pay hikes, and deny opportunities for growth. She may even lose her job if she’s reporting to him directly.

4. Why doesn’t she just quit and leave if it was that bad?

Not everyone is in a position of privilege and financial security to take such a decision. Besides, considering how prevalent a problem sexual harassment is, what is the guarantee that the same issue will not crop up at a new workplace? Career growth also depends on networking. The perpetrator, who is in a position of power, may be able to stop her career growth even if she leaves the organisation and goes elsewhere.

5. Where’s the proof?

Several women in the #MeToo movement have shared screenshots of conversations and emails that their perpetrators have sent them, which clearly suggest sexual harassment. In many cases, one woman’s story about a particular man has encouraged others also to speak up about him.

In some cases, their testimonies have been supported by others who knew of the incident when it happened. For instance, in Tanushree’s case, journalist Janice Sequeira has confirmed the series of events. AIB has issued a formal statement, accepting that the organisation knew about the sexual harassment charges against one of its members. Phantom Films was recently dissolved after Anurag Kashyap admitted that he knew about his partner Vikas Bahl sexually assaulting a woman. However, it is to be noted that in most of these cases, nothing was done until the survivors came out in public and spoke about the incident and the organisation was forced to take a stance.

Sexual harassment often happens when the perpetrator is alone with the victim and the latter may not have any proof beyond her testimony. But as mentioned above, the first step in the #MeToo movement is to give survivors our trust. Besides, even with proof ranging from documentary to medical evidence, survivors are often neither believed by society nor the patriarchal legal system.

6. Isn’t it unfair to the man?

Men accused of sexual harassment have seldom paid the price for it. In many industries, people are already aware about the behaviour of such men which tends to follow a pattern. However, nothing is done about it because he is in a position of power and considered to be an asset to the organisation or industry. Often, a man’s “talent” is considered more important than his behaviour and he is excused because “boys will be boys”. The number of women who have dropped out of the workspace because of him is not taken into account.

When an accusation is made, a process of fair inquiry must be initiated. However, many organisations do not have a functioning Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) as mandated by law for workspaces that have at least 10 employees. In instances where there is an ICC, it’s often the case that the accused man is either a part of it or is in a position to influence it. It’s the survivor, therefore, who ends up bearing the brunt of the inquiry. The accused continues in his position of power and privilege, with no damage done.

When a criminal complaint is filed, too, the process can be extremely traumatising to the survivor, with the police and the court resorting to character assassination to put her down. Legal aid can also be unaffordable, especially when her career is already at stake.

#MeToo is not a substitute to the legal process. It’s a movement that encourages women to speak up when the entire system around them has pushed them into silence. Some of the survivors who have shared their stories as part of the movement have also filed formal complaints, heartened by the support that they’ve finally received. Some organisations have conducted internal inquiries and removed the accused person from their position after satisfying themselves of the veracity of the allegations.

7. What about false allegations?

The #MeToo movement is neither perfect nor organised by any institution. It’s often an organic process where a survivor starts speaking, triggering an outpouring from others. There is certainly a possibility that a false allegation can be made. However, considering the fact that existing legal processes in the country are weighed heavily against the survivor, the possibility is negligible. This is especially so when the survivor has put her name to the allegation and is running a huge risk to her career and personal life.

Sometimes, survivors choose to identify themselves to a trusted person in the public space who then puts forth their story anonymously. In the first round of #MeToo, it was law student Raya Sarkar who went through testimonies, spoke to survivors and made The List. In the new bout, journalist Sandhya Menon and others have been following a certain vetting process before putting up the allegations.

Still, it must be understood that these are accusations and the person who has been accused can challenge these if required – on social media, at the ICC or in court as required.

8. Why should mainstream media cover this?

Because women make up for half the population in the country and their voices matter. The #MeToo movement is historic and has had an impact all over the world. Powerful men like Harvey Weinstein, who could not be touched earlier, have had to relinquish their position because the women dared to speak up at last.

It matters because the existing systems don’t work, and we need fresh ideas. These are unprecedented times when technology has enabled women across the globe to connect and speak freely. The mainstream media should document this turn in history, this moment when women have stood up and said ‘Time’s Up’

Newsminute

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India – #MeToo in Media: Editor’s Guild Slams ‘Predatory Behaviour’

MJ Akbar, KR Sreenivas among journalist’s accused in Indian media’s Me Too.

MJ Akbar, KR Sreenivas among journalist’s accused in Indian media’s Me Too.(Photo altered by The Quint)

Taking cognizance of the slew of harassment allegations against male journalists, the Editors Guild of India on Tuesday, 9 October condemned the ‘predatory behaviour by such men’.

In a statement, the Guild said, “Its worse when the perpetrators also happen to be enjoying senior or supervisory positions in the profession.”

The Guild is committed to ensuring that the legal rights of either the victims or the accused are not violated. A fair, just and safe working environment is essential if press freedoms are to flourish. The newsroom in our profession is a relatively informal, free-spirited and hallowed space. It must be protected.
Editors Guild Statement

Extending support to all women journalists, the Guild also called upon the media organisations to hold unbiased inquiries into all reported cases.

A recent spate of tweets calling out alleged sexual harassers and predators has taken the Internet by a storm. What started with Bollywood actor Tanushree Dutta recounting an incident in which Nana Patekar had allegedly assaulted her and a thread of tweets calling out Bangalore comic Utsav for sending d**k pics to women, has now developed into a full fledged campaign, that has also taken the Indian media into its folds.

Various journalists have been named in tweets and posts for alleged sexual harassment.

MJ Akbar

In 2017, a female journalist had written, for the Vogue India, about her ordeal with a specific boss who had decided to conduct her job interview in a hotel room at 7 pm.

The bed, a scary interview accompaniment, was already turned down for the night. Come sit here, you said at one point, gesturing to a tiny space near you. I’m fine, I replied with a strained smile. I escaped that night, you hired me, I worked for you for many months even though I swore I would never be in a room alone with you again…All these years later the world has changed but your species is just the same. You still think it’s your right to take your pick of the bright professional young women who enter YOUR workspace. You whip out your tired tricks for a new batch of women every year. “Watch me shower.” “Can I give you a massage?” “A shoulder rub?” “I’m ready for my blow job now.” “Are you married?”

In a tweet on Monday, the journalist revealed that “the boss” in fact is the present Minister of State (MOS) for External Affairs MJ Akbar. She also said that “lots of women have worse stories about this predator.”

Also Read:  #MeToo: Ex-Editor & Minister MJ Akbar Accused of Sexual Harassment

KR Sreenivas

A resident editor at The Times of India, KR Sreenivas, had allegedly harassed a journalist when she used to work with him at the Bangalore Mirror.

The journalist alleged, on Twitter, that one day, late at night, Sreenivas had offered to drop a few of them home from work. She was the last one to get dropped off since she lived furthest away. On reaching her hous, Sreenivas lay a hand on her thigh and said:

My wife and I have grown apart. She doesn’t understand me

The girl asked him to remove his hand and go up and left.

Subsequently, other women also shared that they were harassed by Sreenivas via inappropriate suggestions and lewd texts. In one instance, he had even suggested to a young intern that she should wear short skirts.

Gautam Adhikari

The same journalist who wrote about Sreenivas, also wrote about Gautam Adhikari – former editor in chief of DNA in Mumbai.

She recounted an incident in which Adhikari had allegedly asked her and another female collegue to show him around the city since he was new. That night ended with him forcefully kissing her.

Another journalist then alleged that Adhikhari had called her to his hotel room to discuss flexible hours and gone on force himself on her, as well.

Manoj Ramachandran

The journalist who wrote about Sreenivas and Adhikari also shared that the associate editor at the Hindustan Times Delhi office, Manoj Ramachandran, allegedly texted her in 2005 to tell her that he wants to fuck her. She was working with him at the Hindustan Times then.

Mayank Jain

Mayank Jain is a former employee of Scroll.in and BloombergQuint. He has been described as a “sexual predator”by a female journalist, who said that for days she kept wondering “what kind of woman am I, that this man could approach me just like that…and tell me to fuck him?”

Following this, another journalist shared that Jain had asked her to rent a room with him.

Also Read: After Utsav, Journalist Mayank Jain Accused of Sexual Harassment

It susequently emerged that Jain had apologised on Twitter in 2017 after sexual allegation were levelled against him.

Prashant Jha

A female journalist on Saturday, alleged that she had been “hit on” by author and a Hindustan Times‘ journalist Prashant Jha, even though she had repeatedly reminded Jha that he had a wife.

Following the allegations, Jha has reportedly stepped down as the Chief of Bureau and Political Editor of Hindustan Times. He has been stripped off his managerial responsibilities, but will remain a reporter.

Sidharth Bhatia

One of the founding editors of The Wire, Sidharth Bhatia too faced allegations of sexual misconduct by two women, allegedly his fellow employees in DNA.

A female journalist, while replying to a tweet thread by Sandhya Menon, named Bhatia, calling him “Feminist Liberal Uncle”, and alleging that many women found their inboxes flooded with his “literary pleadings to bed” them. Another alleged former employee too replied on the thread, alleging similar behavior on Bhatia’s part.

Bhatia, however, has denied these allegations in a statement, while also stating that he did not know either of the women who had called him out.

Meghnad Bose

A former student at the Asian College of Journalism (ACJ) and a Senior Coresspondent at The Quint, Meghnad Bose, has been accused of sexual misconduct and inappropriate behaviour by his journalism school batchmates.

Also Read: The Quint’s Employee Meghnad Bose Accused of Sexual Harassment

Another batchmate alleged that Bose had ‘bullied and harassed women’ while a third batchmate accused Bose of being ‘inappropriate around her.’

In his apology, following the allegations, Megnad Bose wrote:

If any of you wish to discuss this further with me, please do. I want to atone for my misconduct, and be a better person than I have been to each one of you. Till then, my head hangs in shame and apology.

Uday Singh Rana

A News18 journalist Uday Singh Rana had allegedly tried to feel a woman up by putting his hands under her bedsheet. On being asked to stop, he did so briefly but subsequently went on to do it again. Finally when she him to stop the second time, he turned the other way and dozed off. The woman shared her ordeal with another female journalist, who tweeted about it.

In response, Rana tweeted:

This is simply not true. I never heard the word ‘No’. When I realised I was unintentionally touching, I apologised and got up to go to the balcony. I did not “turn and doze off” after that. I deny this categorically.

However, he also put out an apology saying that he will never forgive himself for that night.

Siddhant Mishra

Siddhant Mishra, another ACJ alumnus, former The Hindu employee and presently a journalist at Business Standard, Siddhant Mishra has also been accused on Twitter of sexual harassment.

The journalist “outing” him also said that she had been deliberating doing so for this long because she was scared of him and doesn’t know what he is capable of.

She also tweeted out a screenshot of a conversation she had had with a friend about him.

NWMI’s Statement on #MeToo in Media

The Network of Women in Media in India has put out a statement saying that they are in “absolute solidarity” with those who have shared their experience of sexual harassment within the Indian media.

We are extremely disturbed to read accounts where accused in multiple cases of harassment enjoy impunity and continue to work in newsrooms unchecked. We strongly condemn the rampant sexism and misogyny in Indian newsrooms that not only allows sexual harassment to go unchecked but also promotes a culture of silence, victim blaming and moral policing.

The NWMI has also raised eight demands including that all media organisations and journalism colleges ensure that the anti-sexual harassment policy and the constitution of the Internal Committee are widely circulated.

(The Quint is now on WhatsApp. To receive handpicked storie

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Tamil lyricist Vairamuthu accused of sexual misconduct #MeToo

The anonymous allegations against Vairamuthu have been made in light of several women coming forward to name alleged perpetrators in powerful positions.

Months after US-based attorney Raya Sarkar released a crowdsourced list of alleged sexual harassers in Indian academia, several women have come forward in recent days with stories of sexual harassment, misconduct and inappropriate behaviour with male coworkers and peers.

The latest name to surface in the list is that of Tamil lyricist Vairamuthu.

In an anonymous message to journalist Sandhya Menon, a screenshot of which she has shared on her Twitter page, a woman has accused the lyricist of sexual harassment at the workplace.

The woman alleges that the incident took place when she, as an 18-year-old, was working with Vairamuthu on a project.

She wrote, “In the pretext of explaining lyrics, he came to me, hugged me and kissed me. I did not know what to do. I said OK sir, thank you and ran from his house.”

The incident is alleged to have taken place at the lyricist’s house cum office in Chennai’s Kodambakkam.

The woman goes on to say that she ensured that she was always in a group while encountering him, following the incident.

The woman has claimed that Vairamuthu is being protected because of his “political connections, which he uses to often silence victims.”

Singer Chinmayi retweeted Sandhya’s tweet and added, “The industry knows; the men know. #TimesUp The time is bloody up.”

Chinmayi Sripaada

@Chinmayi

The industry knows; the men know.
The time is bloody up.

Sandhya Menon

@TheRestlessQuil

On lyricist Vairamuthu

View image on Twitter

Vairamuthu has been in a controversy recently where he was accused of defaming a Hindu goddess in an article he wrote in a Tamil daily.

Women from across the media industry have come forward in recent days to name alleged perpetrators of sexual misconduct. From Utsav, a comedian associated with the All India Bakchod to the Times of India’s Hyderabad Resident Editor KR Sreenivas, many have been called out on social media.

As seen in several instances of the #MeToo movement, once an allegation surfaced against an individual, many other testimonies of similar behaviour about the person began to emerge.

https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/me-too-why-written-record-harassment-important-even-if-you-don-t-complain-89696

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Why written record of harassment is important even if you don’t complain #MeToo

Even if you don’t file a complaint at the time of the incident, you may choose to do so later on. Either way, written records will go a long way in helping your case.

Four years ago, Sumitha* joined a leading national news channel. At 24, she was as ambitious as any other reporter. Little did she know that the next couple of months would be her last in journalism, thanks to the sexual harassment she would face at the hands of an established journalist, her editor at the time.

Over the past few days, an overwhelming number of stories of alleged sexual offences by renowned and powerful men in the Indian media have emerged. Sumitha, now 28, was also one of the women who wrote about her experience of being sexually harassed by this man, the then editor of a TV channel. The only reason she did not name him, she tells TNM, is because she has no written record of his deeds.

Sumitha’s story

Sumitha stayed in that TV channel for a few months, and the sexual harassment she faced went on for about two months. Her senior, the editor she did not name, would send her ‘I love you’s over text. When she asked him, a man almost two decades senior to her in age, why he was saying these things, and it was making her uncomfortable, he brushed it off saying that this is how he spoke to all his colleagues. “Everyone is a dear friend of mine, why do you have so much discomfort,” he allegedly asked her. So Sumitha let it go.

“He eventually went on to commenting on my body, and saying I looked good or that top suited me etc. I again objected; he chided me to not look at his attraction for me from a moral lens. He would say he was lonely,” she narrates.

Later, the editor started sexting her and asked Sumitha to sext him back. “It started affecting my work, because I would slog all day and my stories still wouldn’t get picked. And then, I started fearing that he would try to make a move on me in person – until this point this sort of communication was restricted to texts. And there would be times where I’d be alone in the office with him to finish my work; so, I was very scared,” she shares. “So, I thought it may be safer for me to keep him at bay by responding over the phone.”

And so, Sumitha was compelled to comply over the phone. “I was not able to understand what else to do. There was also no one to talk to and I was so ashamed,” she says. He also felt entitled to Sumitha being available for his whims on the phone whenever he wanted, she says.

In the two months that this happened, Sumitha also met her now husband, Suresh*. She told the editor also that she was dating someone, but the editor did not stop and bad mouthed her boyfriend too. She eventually told Suresh what was happening, and he told her to get out of the workplace. She agreed.

“I called up our boss, a bureau chief, and told him I wanted to quit and the reason behind it. He encouraged me to make a formal complaint. He said that it would require me and the editor who harassed me to come to Delhi, submit proof, that there would be a committee hearing and that it would be a long process. My fiancé and I didn’t want to go through that then, and so we decided against a formal complaint. The bureau chief was supportive. I submitted my resignation and stopped coming to office from the next day,” Sumitha narrates.

The offending editor called her about her resignation. “He asked how I could do this, what was this nonsense and all… I just told him he was responsible for it, and he is the reason I quit. We did not speak after that,” Sumitha says. She also ended up quitting journalism, because she knew it was not possible to go around in the journalism circles without running into him.

No written record of harassment

Needless to say, those two months left Sumitha very confused and traumatised. She ended up deleting all the messages to this editor, and thankfully, over time, healed and was able to absolve herself of the guilt that wasn’t hers to begin with.

Now however, when she wanted to tell her story, Sumitha does regret not having any written record of what happened. “I wish the conversation with my bureau chief, who encouraged me to make a formal complaint, was on email. Even though I did not file the complaint, that record would have helped me now. But since I have no proof now, I cannot name him. Even if I did, he’s so established, no one would take my word over his,” Sumitha says.

The need to maintain written evidence was reiterated by Gayatri Singh Dahiya, the founding editor of Vagabomb as well. She identified herself as the complainant in the sexual harassment case against ScoopWhoop co-founder Suparn Pandey on Facebook on Monday. She had also named Sattvik Mishra and Sriparna Tikekar, the other co-founders of the publication as abettors, in the police complaint she filed in March 2017.

In the Facebook post, Gayatri recounts the alleged harassment she faced, as well as how the organisation allegedly flouted the Sexual Harassment Act of 2013. Her first advice to women who have faced sexual harassment at the workplace, Gayatri writes, is to put everything in writing.

“It seems exhausting (and almost unnecessary until you’ve been harassed), but even if you don’t take your fight to court, you will need any and all evidence to participate in an ICC investigation or even to substantiate your claims should you face any legal or social media-fueled backlash. We must accept that we live in a less-than-ideal reality where we must come to expect and be prepared for any assault or harassment, and with that understanding – I urge you to collect and store any and all evidence from the time you notice something’s off in someone’s interaction(s) with you,” Gayatri says.

She also advises women to get legal counsel if they decide to pursue the matter through an Internal Complaints Committee and also if they decide to file a police complaint. You can read her full post here.

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Despite request to Modi, Army lost crucial day without vehicles: Lt. Gen

Despite request to Modi, Army lost crucial day without vehicles: Lt. Gen

Qutubuddin Ansari begging before a mob to spare his life. His became face of the 2002 riots
On the intervening night of February 28 and March 1, 2002, when Gujarat was engulfed in flames, Lt Gen Zameer Uddin Shah met the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi, in the presence of the then Defence Minister George Fernandes, at 2 am in Ahmedabad and gave him a list of immediate requirements to enable the Army columns to fan out to restore law and order.

But the 3,000 troops that had landed at the Ahmedabad airfield at 7 am on March 1, had to wait for a day before the Gujarat administration provided the transport – during which period hundreds of people were killed.

“These were crucial hours lost,” Shah, who retired as the Deputy Chief of Army Staff, has revealed in his upcoming memoir titled “The Sarkari Mussalman” to be launched by former Vice President Hamid Ansari on October 13 at India International Centrehere.



In the memoir Shah writes that the Gujarat government requested for deployment of the Army through the Union Home Ministry and the Ministry of Defence on February 28, 2002. The then Chief of Army Staff, General S. Padmanabhan, “‘Zoom, get your formation to Gujarat tonight and quell the riots.’ I replied, ‘Sir, the road move will take us two days.’ He shot back, ‘The Air Force will take care of your move from Jodhpur. Get maximum troops to the airfield. Speed and resolute action are the need of the hour.'”

Upon arriving at the “dark and deserted” Ahmedabad airfield, he enquired: “Where are the vehicles and other logistic support we had been promised?” He learnt that the state government was still “making the necessary arrangements”.

“The crucial period was the night of 28th February and the 1st of March. This is when the maximum damage was done. I met the Chief Minister at 2 am on the 1st morning. The troops sat on the airfield all through the 1st of March and we got the transport only on the 2nd of March. By then the mayhem had already been done,” Shah, who has been conferred Param Vishisht Seva Medal, Vishisht Seva Medal and Sena Medal for his services to the armed forces, said.

Asked if the damage would be lesser had the army been allowed full freedom and provided with what he had personally asked Modi for, he agreed and said: “Most certainly the damage would have been much, much less had we got the vehicles at the right time. What the police couldn’t do in six days we did in 48 hours despite being six times smaller in size than them. We finished the operation in 48 hours on the 4th of March, but it could have been finished on the 2nd of March itself had we not lost those crucial hours.”

He said that he is not blaming anyone in particular. “It may take some time in arranging transport but in a situation like that, it could have possibly been done faster,” he added.

He said the police were “dumb bystanders” while the “mob was setting fire on streets and houses”. They were taking “no action” to prevent the “mayhem” that was being done.

“I did see a lot of MLAs from the majority community sitting at the police stations. They had no business to be there. Whenever we used to tell the police to impose the curfew, they never did so in the minority areas. So, the minorities were always surrounded by the mobs. It was a totally parochial and biased handling,” the decorated army veteran maintained.

Asked of the political links in the riot, Shah said that he does not “want to reopen any old wounds”, maintaining that the purpose of his memoir is “to tell the facts as they happened in Gujarat in 2002”.

“It takes three generations to forget. I do not want to reopen the wounds. I have spoken the truth about police and I stand by every word I have written,” he said.

The government had told the parliament in 2005 that 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus were killed, 223 more people reported missing and another 2,500 injured during the 2002 riots in Gujarat. Shah maintains in the book that the “official figures of deaths and damage do not reflect a true picture of the actual extent of the carnage”.

The book – packed with revelations as also his personal experiences in life, both as an army man and a Muslim in India – has been endorsed by at least two Chiefs of Army staff, including General S. Padmanabhan.

“Many eyebrows were raised when I nominated ‘Zoom’ to lead the Army complement to Gujarat. Some seniors told me of their misgivings. I told them in no uncertain terms that the choice of troops and their leader was a military decision and not open to debate. The Army moved into Gujarat, led by ‘Zoom’ whose ability, impartiality and pragmatic decision making, soon brought the situation under control,” Gen Padmanabhan wrote as an endorsement of the book.

IANS

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Nine women speak up, accuse Minister M J Akbar of sexual harassment when he was Editor #MeToo

M J Akbar is the first political public figure to feature in the growing list of men — so far largely from the media, film and entertainment — named in India’s own #MeToo movement that is gathering momentum since it broke on social media last week.

#MeToo movement: Six women speak up, accuse Minister M J Akbar of sexual harassment when he was Editor

File photo of MoS for External Affairs MJ Akbar. (Photo: PTI)

#MeToo: More Women Accuse MoS MJ Akbar of Sexual Harassment

At least nine women journalists have named Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar for sexually harassing them while he was working as an editor of a newspaper.

These journalists have given detailed accounts of Akbar violating consent and conducting uncomfortable interviews in hotel rooms.

Akbar is the first political figure to have emerged in the list of men who have been accused of sexually assaulting and harassing women from across the media and entertainment industry.

IT STARTED WITH AN ACCOUNT BY JOURNALIST PRIYA RAMANI

Priya Ramani, who was formerly associated with India Today, The Indian Express and Mint, was the first to level allegations against MJ Akbar.

In a piece titled ‘To the Harvey Weinsteins of the world’ published in Vogue India in October 2017, Ramani describes an experience that she had with Akbar, when he was an editor – without naming him.

She says that she was invited to a plush hotel in Mumbai for a job interview, which she remembers more as a date than an interview. She goes on to call him a “predator” and says, “You’re an expert on obscene phone calls, texts, inappropriate compliments and not taking no for an answer.”

“You know how to pinch, pat, rub, grab and assault. Speaking up against you still carries a heavy price that many young women cannot afford to pay,” the article read.

On Monday, 8 October, Ramani took to Twitter to name her aggressor – MJ Akbar.

Also Read: MEA Silent on Sexual Harassment Claim Against MoS MJ Akbar

SHUMA RAHA: 1995 KOLKATA

After Ramani tweeted the 2017 article naming Akbar, another journalist Shuma Raha took to Twitter and said, “Year: 1995, Place Taj Bengal, Kolkata. After that encounter, I declined the job offer.”

Raha also clarified that Akbar didn’t do anything to her, although she mentioned the experience of an interview in a hotel room was “deeply uncomfortable”.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Raha also said that she was asked by Akbar to come to his hotel room for the interview in Kolkata in the year 1995 and the level of discomfort she faced while giving the interview, sitting on the bed, was one of the major reasons why she didn’t take up the job.

Also Read:  #MeToo: “Rajat Kapoor Tried to Kiss Me Repeatedly, I Was 20”

HE RAN HIS HANDS FROM MY BREAST TO HIPS: GHAZALA MUSTAFA

Another journalist Ghazala Wahab wrote her account on news portal The Wire.

Recalling her early days as a journalist, Wahab said she joined The Asian Age in 1994, as an intern, where Akbar was an editor. And it was in 1997, her third year at work, when the “office culture hit her”.

Wahab said that Akbar would send her lewd messages on The Asian Age intranet and would often call her to his cabin, where she was repeatedly harassed.

Wahab mentioned that she was called to Akbar’s room, while he would write his weekly column, to look up words from a dictionary that was placed on a low surface. In one such incident, she mentioned that she was squatting to look up a word when Akbar held her waist.

“I stumbled in sheer fright while struggling to get to my feet. He ran his hands from my breast to my hips. I tried pushing his hands away, but they were plastered on my waist, his thumbs rubbing the sides of my breasts,” Wazab said.

She also mentioned multiple instances where Akbar touched her inappropriately and repeatedly harassed her.

Wahab also said that she had confided in the then bureau chief of the newspaper, Seema Mustafa, but her cries had fallen on deaf ears.

Also Read:  #MeToo: NCW Reaches Out to Sexual Harassment Survivors

PRERNA SINGH BINDRA: ANOTHER HOTEL ROOM INTERVIEW

On 6 October, journalist Prerna Singh Bindra put out a tweet saying she was called to a hotel room by this “brilliant, flamboyant editor who dabbled in politics” and later made her worklife harder when she refused. Bindra hadn’t spoken, named the editor at that moment, but later on 8 October she, too, named Akbar.

She also mentioned that Akbar once made “lewd comments” during a meeting with the entire features team. Bindra also recalls how the other girls (in the team) had told her that they were invited to hotel rooms too.

SHUTAPA PAUL: 2010-2011 IN KOLKATA

Retweeting Ramani’s account, another female journalist Shutapa Paul tweeted, “#MeToo #MJAkbar 2010-11 while in @IndiaToday in Kolkata.”

Shutapa, in a detailed thread on Twitter, said Akbar scheduled his meetings with her in hotel rooms, sometimes at odd hours.

“MJ Akbar told me how journalists working together often ‘grew close’ and things could happen between them. He told me I should accompany him on his foreign visits. I told him about my mother, my recently deceased father and the committed relationship I was in at that time.”
Shutapa Paul

Also Read: Kashmir’s #MeToo Arrives: Women Recount Sexual Abuse, Harassment

KADAMBARI M WADE, TOO, NAMES MJ AKBAR

Another former journalist at Asian Age has named MJ Akbar.

Kadambari M Wade took to Twitter to say, back in 1998, when she was working as a sports reporter, Akbar made her feel ‘awkward’.

Narrating one such incident, she said Akbar would always look at her ‘chest’ while talking to her, so one day, she confronted him about it and after that – as Wade recalls – Akbar and she never spoke.

KANIKA GAHLAUT: 1995-1997

Speaking to The Indian Express, freelance journalist Kanika Gahlaut said she worked with Akbar from 1995 to 1997 and Akbar’s behaviour towards everyone was inappropriate.

Describing an incident, Gahlaut told the daily that she was invited to a hotel room once by Akbar, to which she agreed but never showed up. She also said she gave him an excuse, and he never bothered her and she continued to work.

Gahlaut added that Akbar “wouldn’t push” once he was told “no”. She also mentions that she was “always given her due” and that she “learnt a lot from him”.

SUPARNA SHARMA CALLS OUT AKBAR

Currently the Resident Editor of The Asian Age, Suparna Sharma has also accused Akbar of harassing her, reported The Indian Express.

Speaking to the daily, Sharma said she became a part of the team from 1993 to 1996, and was reporting to Akbar. She said she was working on the first page of the newspaper and Akbar was standing behind her.

“He plucked my bra strap and said something which I don’t remember now. I screamed at him,” Sharma told the daily.

In another incident, Sharma said she once went to Akbar’s cabin at work and he kept staring at her breast and said something that she ignored.

Sharma says that these incidents were routine and there were “no committees one could go to”.

SABA NAQVI’S ACCOUNT OF HARASSEMENT

In an article on DailyO, senior journalist Saba Naqvi has written about the harassment she faced at her workplace by a certain editor who shares his name with a “Grand Mughal Emperor”.

Though Naqvi doesn’t name anyone, she goes on to narrate a few incidents that she faced in office with this person she describes as a “predator” who later became a senior politician.

But as Saba Naqvi tweeted out her account, journalists Priya Ramani and Suhasini Haider called out MJ Akbar.

Naqvi clarifies that the man never laid a hand on her, but what he did was nothing short of harassment.

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‘Sairat’ Director’s Ex-Wife Tells Her Story of Abuse

Nagraj Manjule’s Sairat not only gifted its director glowing reviews, but also crowned him as the maker of Marathi cinema’s most successful film. It’s no mean feat, and Manjule is busy pocketing plaudits from every corner.

The lead cast of <i>Sairat</i> in a scene from the film
The lead cast of Sairat in a scene from the film

Call it the irony of fate or the loneliness of a long distance runner, there is someone from his past who is feeling completely left out in this heavy shower of success. Sunita Manjule, Nagraj Manjule’s ex-wife, has emerged out of the shadows to cry foul and points fingers at the director’s tall claims on his stand on women’s place in society. Citing financial, emotional and physical abuse, Sunita alleges that the director’s words are all show, and it is she who is going to tell the real tale.

Here on, Sunita Manjule describes her marital woes in her own words.

I got married to Nagraj Manjule in 1997, when I was barely 18-19 years old. It was an arranged marriage, for our families decided our union. He was studying in his XII th standard when we became one. I hail from Chinchwad, Pune, and post marriage, I went on to live with his family in Jeur, Solapur.

His family was rather large with his parents, and his brothers. Since Nagraj was the eldest, I became the eldest daughter-in-law and I had to take care of the entire family.

Nagraj Manjule and his wife Sunita on their wedding day in 1997 (Photo courtesy: Akash Supare)
Nagraj Manjule and his wife Sunita on their wedding day in 1997 (Photo courtesy: Akash Supare)

Cleaning, cooking, and being the ideal bahu, I was playing the role of looking after everyone’s well being. The family was big, and I used to be busy in household work throughout the day. Since his mother would be down with fever most of the time, the onus of being the woman of the house was always on me.

On the other hand, Nagraj was busy in his studies. While I was with taking care of his parents in his village, he lived in the city. After finishing his studies in Pune, he wanted to pursue filmmaking. He used to tell me always that he wants to become a big filmmaker, and he must pursue this course. He enrolled himself in an institute in Ahmednagar.

He was so engrossed in his studies and dreams that he hardly had time for me. It was me who was toiling 24 X 7 for 365 days so that his family can be fed and taken care of. Whenever he used to come home, he would assure me that when he becomes a big filmmaker he would take me out of the village, and we would make a nest in a big city like Mumbai. It all felt so beautiful, and a dream we both could inhabit.

There were problems in our marriage but I overlooked them because I was devoted to my husband, and because of that, to his family. That’s all every Indian woman does, right?

The dreams he showed me came crashing as soon as his filmmaking career started to bloom. His short film, Pistulya, was highly praised by everyone, but our joy knew no bounds when it was chosen for the National Awards. He was about to receive an award from the President of India! I was over the moon.

But I was in for a rude shock when I realised that I was not a part of my husband’s plans. Not only that, his entire family went to Delhi. Not only did they go without me, they also locked me inside the house while they were leaving. I didn’t know what to do. I was at a loss for words.

Nagraj Manjule’s wife Sunita reveals her side of the story (Photo courtesy: Akash Supare)
Nagraj Manjule’s wife Sunita reveals her side of the story (Photo courtesy: Akash Supare)

The husband I knew slowly vanished into the filmmaker. Slowly, his visits dwindled and whenever he would come, he would get his friends, sometimes male sometimes female, along. I would cook, serve and be the best host possible. But he would never even acknowledge my presence in front of his friends. So much so that he would leave without even telling me. And I would come to know about his departure from other family members.

After that National Award incident, our marriage fell apart. I sensed that he might be seeing someone else, or he is not happy with me.

Then came a point when I begged him to let me stay in his family, he could do whatever he wanted, I just wanted to retain his surname. Tell me, after marriage, which woman would find it comfortable going back to her parents’ house?

As fate would have it, it all came to a sad end. My parents came to take me back to their house. Which parent can tolerate such misery for their children? I was taken to their family as the daughter-in-law, but in practice, I was their housemaid.

There were efforts by others so that we could get back, but my husband refused to co-operate. Then a divorce case was filed in 2012, and the case went on for long. Finally, our lawyer spoke to their lawyer, and fixed up a deal in 2014.

I was made to sign papers which I could barely understand, and a demand draft of Rs 7 lakhs was given as the settlement sum, out of which our lawyer, above his payments, took away Rs 1 lakh. Later, I came to know that I would have no right on his property, alimony or his life. I was told this was all I could get.

What I regret the most is not having any child of my own, despite being married for 15 long years. Looking at other married women, I always longed to taste motherhood, have a child of my own, but it wasn’t possible in our marriage. Because every time I would ask him about having a child, he would scold me that it wouldn’t be possible because he can’t afford to get bogged down by familial ties, when he has filmy dreams to chase.

Nagraj Manjule’s ex-wife Sunita (Photo: Akash Supare)
Nagraj Manjule’s ex-wife Sunita (Photo: Akash Supare)

This is why he made me go for 2-3 abortions, and whenever I raised my voice for keeping the child, he thrashed me, with his bare hands, leather belt and sometimes, a log of wood.

After Fandry, Sairat has really been loved by everyone, and this makes me very proud that my husband is such a creative man. But I think he is embarrassed of me. He moves in the artistic circles, the who’s who of Maharashtra speak to him with high regard, and here I am, someone who has studied only till VIII th standard. I think that’s the reason he deemed me fit only to take care of his family and to do household work, but not be the wife that he could acknowledge in front of everyone. Now he has become successful, and I, being the not-so-literate makes him ashamed, which is why he got rid of me.

I have given 15 years of my life, my blood and sweat to nurture his family when he was busy struggling to study and make a career. And now, I have been reduced to a nobody, a stranger.

Now, I live with my parents and my siblings. I work as a maid in different houses to make my livelihood. I am sheltered as long as my parents are alive. My brothers are married and have their own families. I don’t know what future really has in store for me. My parents are old, and I don’t know what will I do after their death. I am scared, but I don’t know whether people would understand my state of being.

Does This Make Sairat a Blatant Case of Double Standards?

Known for his stand on caste oppression as a burning reality in his films, Nagraj Manjule has stated in many interviews that women are the dalits of the dalits. A stand that is clear in Sairat, which favours Archie’s journey more than Parshya’s. As they say, truth is stranger than fiction. Nagraj’s ex-wife clearly alleges that there is much hypocrisy between what is preached and what is practiced.

Akash Supare, a social worked based in Pune, was approached to act as a mediator when Nagraj and Sunita’s marriage crumbled. He shed further light on the matter.

I really tried to get the two parties together and end their discord. If two people can end their marital dispute before going to the court, it’s always better. But despite my incessant calls, Nagraj Manjule refused to co-operate and meet. Slowly, my attention got divided since there was no response from Nagraj’s side, and it was going nowhere. Later, I came to know that they went to the court, and got a divorce done.
Akash Supare, Social Worker

The outcome of the settlement, Rs 7 lakhs with no right to property, left Supare completely shocked.

When I saw their papers, I was completely shocked. This is a clear case of financial exploitation. What is Rs 7 lakhs in todays world of inflation? Not only that, Sunita has also told me how Nagraj made her go though abortions for he wanted to chase his dreams. He got his way out, but in the bargain, his wife, Sunita got a very raw deal. If a filmmaker has delivered the most successful film in Marathi film history, how come his wife is washing utensils? Does that happen anywhere else in India? Does any hit Bollywood director’s ex-wife work as a maid? It’s the story of every Indian woman who gives her life taking care of the husband’s family, but her contribution hardly gets acknowledged. When Sunita told me her ordeal, I realized in a few meetings that Nagraj’s family has made a fool out of her because she is not an educated woman. Imagine, despite such unkind treatment from her husband, all she wanted was to retain her husband’s name and stay in his house. This is abuse of the worst kind. I really respect Nagraj Manjule as a filmmaker, but this side of him simply reflects a terrible truth which is so unlike what he portrays in his films.
Akash Supare, Social Worker

We tried to get in touch with Nagraj Manjule for his version of the story, but he was unavailable to comment.

(The writer is a journalist who believes in the insanity of words, in print or otherwise. Follow him on Twitter: @RanjibMazumder)

(This story is from The Quint’s archives and was first published on 7 June 2016)

 

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