Actress and filmmaker Nandita Das, a staunch of MeToo movement, has defended her father Jatin Das after an Assam-based conservationist alleged that the celebrated painter had sexually harassed her in the past. Nisha Bora on Tuesday alleged that Das had forcibly kissed her at his Khirki Village studio in 2004.
Bora wrote, “I visited Jatin in his studio, which was in Khidki village… The next thing I knew, he attempted to grab me. I wriggled out of his embrace, flustered. Then he did it again. This time, he managed a clumsy kiss on my lips.”
Bora, the co-founder of Elrhino Paper, an Assam-based organisation that makes hand-made paper from rhinoceros and elephant dun, went on to add, “I recall the feeling of his beard on my skin. I pushed him away, and moved away from him. At that moment he said, ‘Come on, it would be nice.’ Or something like that…
“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.”
#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
Das, who was awarded Padma Bhushan, a top civilian honour, in 2012, rejected Bora’s allegations calling it vulgar. “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,” Das told news agency PTI.
Taking to Facebook, Nandita Das too defended her father and urged people to be ‘sure about allegations’ in order to ensure that the MeToo movement was not diluted. Her Facebook post read, “As a strong supporter of the #MeToo movement, I want to reiterate that I will continue to add my voice to it, despite the disturbing allegations made against my father, which he has categorically denied.
“I have maintained from the very start that this is the time we all need to listen, so that women (and men) feel safe to speak up. At the same time, it is also important to be sure about allegations so as not to dilute the movement. I am touched by the number of people – friends and strangers – who are concerned and are trusting my integrity. I do believe truth will prevail. And that is all I have to say on this matter.”
However, Nandita’s defence for her father evoked mixed reactions on social media as activists appeared divided with their opinions. Men’s rights activist Deepika Bhardwaj tweeted, “When it’s not about my own: All Men Are Rapists! When it’s about my father: Be sure about allegations.” Another user on Twitter wrote, “Mam, #MeToo serpent is knocking ur door. U encouraged women to make arbitrary claims against men. Majority of rape cases, 498A cases are fake & u expect all harassment cases will be true.
Those who live and support lies must die by it. Best Wishes.”
On Facebook, one user wrote, “Madam I believe you, u r the best person in the world. I m with u madam, I m here to support you.” Another user commented, “The way the media dragged Miss Das’s name as headlines to write about her father was disgusting.”