Nearly 40 activists on Wednesday issued a statement condemning the civil defamation suit that Indian artist Subodh Gupta filed against the administrator of an Instagram account that carried sexual harassment allegations against him last year during the #MeToo movement.

Last month, the Delhi High Court ordered Facebook, the company that owns the social media platform Instagram, to reveal the identity of the administrator, and also directed Facebook and Google to take down web pages that show the content, which Gupta has alleged were defamatory in nature. The Instagram account Scene and Herd was also restrained from posting any content against Gupta in the interim.

The signatories said that the defamation case against the Instagram account’s administrator was an attempt to “silence the survivors and gag the platform that gave them a voice” while protecting their identities. “This is exactly what survivors have feared when choosing anonymity,” the statement added. “This is an attempt to dissuade others from sharing further experiences of harassment and violence, and to perpetuate a culture of fear.”

“@herdsceneand is an important platform that gives voice to survivors whose accounts of sexual harassment and abuse of power have been systematically silenced in the past,” the signatories said. “The platform creates an environment of collectivity and solidarity in an otherwise hostile context.”

The statement added that the survivors of sexual abuse must be protected. “Intimidation and attempts to discredit and silence their voices MUST be strongly condemned,” it said.

In December, Gupta resigned as the curator of the Serendipity Arts Festival, 2018, after he was accused of sexual harassment by an anonymous person.

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