AIB has released a new statement that accepts Tanmay Bhat was told of the allegations against Utsav but the group chose to continue working with him regardless.

HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Tanmay Bhat,Utsav Chakraborty,AIB
AIB says Tanmay Bhat was told of the specifics of Utsav Chakraborty’s behaviour with the woman he allegedly harassed.

In a fresh statement, comedy group AIB has accepted that they knew about comedianUtsav Chakraborty’s misbehaviour with women and still kept working on projects with him. The group shared a long post on their Facebook account, detailing how Tanmay Bhat, one of the founding members of the group, learnt of the allegations against Utsav and even confronted him about it.

On Thursday, Utsav was accused of sending sexually explicit messages to women, including minor girls, in a Twitter thread by a a writer-comedian. She shared several accounts of women who claimed to have received unsolicited explicit photographs from Utsav. He has since apologized for his behaviour but also denied sending explicit images to women. AIB also offered an apology for having played a part in the story and said that they were removing all videos featuring Utsav, pending an investigation.

On Friday, however, AIB wrote in a new statement that they ‘messed up’ by continuing to work with him even after they learnt of the accusations against him. It also detailed how Tanmay’s confrontation with Utsav led to him harassing the accuser again. AIB believes it should have cut ties with him immediately.

Here is the full statement:

A statement ; We’re sorry

We would like to address something that’s been said since allegations of sexual harassment were made against former AIB employee Utsav Chakraborty yesterday. It’s been said that AIB knew of the accusations during his employment and failed to take action. We’d like to offer some clarity on that.

We messed up. Since yesterday we’ve been trying to introspect and process what we did wrong, and everything that came up during our conversations all feel like excuses in hindsight and fact of the matter is that we messed up.

Some time after Utsav had stopped being an AIB employee, Tanmay Bhat received specific, detailed allegations about him in a private and personal conversation. Tanmay confronted Utsav in a personal capacity – which led to Utsav calling the victim, leading to further harassment. At the time, the accuser did not wish to pursue any further legal action. Out of respect for the person’s privacy, nobody else at AIB was informed of the specifics of the situation, and the matter ended there. And so, as a company, we continued working with Utsav in a freelance capacity for a little longer. That’s on us. We made a big mistake. We should have cut all ties immediately.

Since then, there have been occasions where we have heard stray insinuations against Utsav in passing, in green rooms and in comedy circles, most of which were commentary on his unprofessional or confrontational behaviour towards other comics. These insinuations were vague with no specific sexual details and no indication of the degree of sexual transgressions. And so we let our cognitive biases do the work our critical faculties should have. That should have been enough for us to listen, investigate, and take necessary action. We failed to listen when we should have and for that we are sorry. As senior members of the comedy fraternity, we could have showed better stewardship of the culture, by listening, instead of normalising.

This is the most honest account we can put forward of what we knew, how much we knew, and what we did and didn’t do on the basis of the information we had. We made mistakes in how we dealt with this information and this situation.

But. All reasoning beyond a point is just going to sound like we’re making excuses. It does not justify any of our actions. We also completely understand anyone who has felt disappointed, or angry, or betrayed by us over the last few days. We’re sorry.

In 24 hours since the allegations were made, several personalities from the comedy circuit tweet about Utsav. Kaneez Surkha, Varun Grover, Aditi Mittal all rained down heavily upon the disgraced comedian.