In light of the #MeToo movement which has taken India by a storm, allegations have been levelled against Nandita Das’ father and Padma Bhushan awardee Jatin Das. Conservationist Nisha Bora, who met Das through her family during a dinner back in 2004, has accused Das of grabbing her and forcefully kissing her.
#MeToo One of India’s most feted artists alive. Padma Bhushan recipient. My molestor. Long post alert. @IndiaMeToo and so MANY other women, starting with @Rxyxsx Thank you for so much. pic.twitter.com/a6VFC6iHys
— Nisha Bora (@NishaBora) October 16, 2018
Narrating the incident, Bora recalls that she met Das at a function hosted by her in-laws back in 2004 in Delhi. She was in awe of the artist as well as his daughter, actor Nandita Das and hence when Jatin Das invited her the next day to help him with organising his work material, she readily agreed. She says she went to his house the next day where they worked and spoke at length about his work. He even gave her an autographed copy of a book on his Pankha project he was working on.
The next day he invited her to his studio. While it was still daylight, Bora says he poured himself a drink and offered her one, which she declined. She then accuses Das of grabbing her against her wish. “I wriggled out of his embrace, flustered. Then he did it again. This time, he managed a clumsy kiss on my lips,” she writes in her Facebook post. She says she pushed him away and moved away, but he was persistent. She says she immediately left and never spoke about the incident until now.
She said reading the stories of women who have come out and named their harasser, her repressed memories came back. She said she felt guilty and ashamed all these years and was concerned for everyone else but herself. “I worked myself into a hole believing that talking about it would make trouble… I felt that somehow I landed myself into this spot and that it was my problem to deal with. I felt guilty and ashamed,” said Bora. She says she internalised and normalised it, but now she has spoken up.
However, Das has denied the allegations and reportedly said that these days a “game” is going on to level allegations against people for the “fun” of it. Labelling the allegations as “vulgar”, he said, “I am shocked. All kinds of things are happening these days… Some people do things and some people make allegations. I don’t know her, I have never met her, and even if I did met somebody somewhere one doesn’t behave like this… It is vulgar. There is a game going on, some people are real have done some things while some people are making allegations for the fun of it.”
In the course of the last few days, two women came forward and accused The Wire’s co-founder and founding editor Siddharth Bhatia as well as journalist Vinod Dua of sexual harassment. The #MeToo movement on social media has taken the country by a storm with many big industry names like Alok Nath, Rajat Kapoor, Varun Grover and comedians like Tanmay Bhat and Gursimran Khamba, co-founders of All India Bakchod being accused of sexual misconduct. Journalists like Prashant Jha and film director Vikas Bahl and many, many more have been named as perpetrators of harassment.