In another development, actress Tanushree Dutta, who started this recent wave of revelations by accusing actor Nana Patekar for harassment on set in 2008, approached the state women’s commission.
Prominent director Vinta Nanda, who had helmed popular TV serial ‘Tara’ in the 1990s, accused actor Alok Nath of raping her 19 years ago. She claimed Nath had offered to drive her, inebriated after a party at Nath’s house, home. On the way, he plied her with more drinks and had sexually assaulted her in her house. She said she was forced to go to the actor’s house once more as she needed work and money, and he raped her again. She will decide on her next plan of action on Wednesday.
Speaking to a TV channel, Alok Nath said he “neither denied nor agreed with Nanda’s allegations”. He claimed that in the present atmosphere, “only what a woman says will be considered”.
Nanda said Nath had not denied that he had raped her when she spoke about it earlier, and the fact that he is denying it now means he is scared. “I would imagine he’s afraid and he is the one who needs to deal with his fear. I am fearless today because… I’ve let it out,” Nanda said.
Serial Tara’s protagonist Navneet Nishan supported Nanda’s allegations and said she too had been harassed by Nath. “I empathise with Vinta for the terrible pain she has gone through… I dealt with the four-year harassment by slapping the man in question and it is done and dusted,” she said.
In New Delhi, the government did not respond to allegations of sexual harassment against M J Akbar, junior external affairs minister. Questioned on Tuesday by journalists, foreign minister Sushma Swaraj offered no comment.
Sources said it would be up to Akbar to “clear the air” about allegations made against him during his stint as an editor and make a statement himself, as this is not seen as an external affairs ministry issue.
Political parties demanded Akbar’s resignation and an investigation. “It is an extremely serious matter… We would like to hear from both the minister in question and the prime minister,” Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said.
Akbar is currently in Abuja, Nigeria, leading a 70-person delegation in an India-West Africa conclave. He is expected to return to India on Thursday. Actor Tanushree Dutta kept up the heat on Nana Patekar. After filing a police complaint at Oshiwara, she wrote to the Maharashtra State Commission for Women on Tuesday, accusing Patekar, Ganesh Acharya, Samee Siddiqui, Rakesh Sarang and MNS workers of harassing her. The panel invited her for a hearing, and chairperson Vijaya Rahatkar said she will ask the police for an action taken report. As a direct outcome of the #MeToo movement, the Mumbai Academy of Moving Images (MAMI), a film association, dropped two pictures from its upcoming festival list. The first, ‘Kadakh’, features actor Rajat Kapoor, who apologised to a journalist for misdemeanour. The other is ‘Chintu Ka Birthday’, the first feature film made by comedy group AIB, whose member Utsav Chakraborty and co-founders Tanmay Bhat and Gursimran Khamba have been tainted by the movement.
BJP MP weighs in on #MeToo movement:
BJP MP Udit Raj waded into controversy, questioning the entire #MeToo movement, labelling it the beginning of a “wrong practice”.
“All women are not perfect and all men are not imperfect. The entire campaign has led to a fear psychosis as men are avoiding keeping women as staffers under them. The ultimate losers are women, therefore allegations cropping up after years of the alleged incidents need to be dealt with carefully,” said Raj, even as he clarified his views are in response to the general “MeToo” campaign. He said there should not be any “misuse” of the campaign and character assassination of a person.