Actor Rajat Kapoor apologises after being accused of misconduct as #MeToo gains momentum in India
Meanwhile, Kashmiri journalist Fahad Shah described the allegations against him as a ‘vilification campaign’.
Actor and filmmaker Rajat Kapoor on Sunday apologised after he was accused by two women of inappropriate behaviour. Since Friday, several women have made allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct against various journalists, media professionals and writers on social media.
A Twitter user shared accounts of two women who have accused Kapoor of misconduct. A journalist claimed Kapoor, during a telephonic interview in 2007, asked her inappropriate questions, including her body measurements. Another woman, who used to be an assistant director on a film, alleged that Kapoor had called her a number of times for a film’s shoot ten years ago, asking if she knew of an empty house where he could shoot alone with her.
“All my life I have tried to be a decent man, to do the right thing,” Kapoor said in a statement on Twitter. “If however, I have slipped and through my actions or words caused pain or hurt or trauma to absolutely anybody, please accept my apology.”
He further said: “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.”
A Facebook user accused journalist Fahad Shah, the editor of Kashmir-based magazine The Kashmirwalla, of molesting her and her friend at a party last year. The woman, who said she was a former girlfriend of Shah, claimed in her post that he had touched her inappropriately and later locked himself in the washroom with her friend. There were other accusations against him as well.
In his statement, Shah called the allegations against him a “concerted vilification campaign”. “The allegations made against me are completely false because I didn’t cross any line of decency with these women,” he said in a Facebook post. He said his former girlfriend and her friends have been accusing him of molestation for some time now. “I’m unable to understand what is the aim of this vilification campaign, if it is not only to harm me,” he wrote.
The allegations against Shah come at a time when several women, including journalists, have taken to social media to give detailed accounts of the sexual harassment and misconduct they faced. The Times of India Resident Editor KR Sreenivas, who was accused by a woman journalist of sexual harassment, said the company has constituted a committee to look into the allegations against him. Writer and columnist Chetan Bhagat apologised for his behaviour after a Twitter user accused him of misconduct. In a Facebook post, Bhagat said that he had not had a physical relationship with the woman.
On Monday, the journalist who accused Sreenivas of sexual harassment took to Twitter to announce that “five of the 11 women who have come forward about being harassed by K R Sreenivas” have sent a petition to the Times Group’s Managing Director Vineet Jain and other members of the management at the media house. “We have furnished evidence,” she tweeted. Later, The News Minute reported that the number of women who have made a representation to the Times of India had gone up to seven. “We hope to see action taken. This is The Times of India’s moment to walk its talk.”
Besides Sreenivas and Bhagat, a bureau chief of Hindustan Times, Prashant Jha, writer Kiran Nagarkar, former Editor in Chief of DNA in Mumbai, Gautam Adhikari, journalist Anurag Verma, advertising professional Mihir Chitre and The Quint’s senior reporter Meghnad Bose, among others, have also been accused of misconduct and sexual harassment. Retired High Court Justice BG Kolse-Patil is also accused of misconduct.
Several women also posted on Twitter about journalist Mayank Jain, a reporter at Business Standard, who formerly worked at Scroll.in and BloombergQuint. One journalist posted that she had been at the “receiving end of this man’s unwelcome sexual predations”, while others posted screenshots of instances in which Jain had allegedly made unwanted advances, including sexually explicit comments, to a number of women. Jain has yet to respond to queries regarding these allegations.
In view of the statements of women who have made public their experiences of Mayank Jain’s misconduct, we at Scroll in the spirit of fair disclosure would like to state that Mayank Jain worked for Scroll from October 15, 2014 to October 30, 2016, and then from June 12, 2017 to December 31, 2017.
A woman employee informally and verbally brought to the attention of a member of the internal complaints committee (ICC) at Scroll an instance of sexually inappropriate online behaviour by Mayank Jain in 2017. The employee, however, did not want to pursue the matter through a formal written complaint, without which no formal inquiry can be initiated. Despite this, the ICC took serious note of the matter and served a written warning to Mayank Jain, reminding him of Scroll’s strict policies prohibiting sexual harassment.
We, at Scroll, commit to continuing to better understand women’s experiences at the workplace and evolve further processes that may be required to prevent, acknowledge and respond to work cultures that are not enabling for women.
This article includes only those accounts in which the women have chosen to name themselves and their alleged harassers or in cases which there have been multiple accusations against one person. Scroll.in reporters are continuing to report the story, including efforts to corroborate and cover the cases where the women have chosen to be anonymous.