India’s #MeToo moment has arrived with brave victims of sexual harassment coming forward to share their stories. Over the past few days, stories have been shared describing how people in power exploited those working for or with them. The movement has seen some of the top-level people in the media and film industry being accused of inappropriate behaviour and sexual harassment. The latest allegations to emerge are against the founder of the leftist website The Wire.
Sidharth Bhatia has been accused by at least two different women of using his position and power to sexually harass women working with him. One woman has accused him of “literary pleadings to bed young colleagues?” Another Twitter user accused him of “licking his ‘lower lip seeing bra straps of young women’ in office.”
How many inboxes must be filled with Feminist Liberal Uncle, The Wire founder, @bombaywallah's literary pleadings to bed young colleagues? Should we expose him, too? @neetakolhatkar @ranjona @TheRestlessQuil @rishibagree @seemantinibose
— Reema Sanyal (@domeofthedevil) October 7, 2018
In the same Twitter thread, Journalist Ranjona Banerjee was also asked by one of the women to speak up implying she knew about this. Sidharth Bhatia was also accused of liking the tweet accusing of sexual harassment which was unliked soon. If he had liked the tweet, it takes creep to a new low and also implies that he was online. The UBR was not able to verify the “Tweet like” independently.
— Bharti Shukla (@right2livelife) October 7, 2018
The Wire’s founder later issued a statement addressing the accusations levelled against him. He denied even knowing the two women who made the accusations. Bhatia claimed that he checked with his colleagues and no one remembered anyone by that name. He said that he was ready for an independent investigation if Ms Shukla came forward with further details.
Wild allegations about me are doing the rounds on Twitter. @thewire_in too has been dragged into it. Here’s my statement about it. I would also urge fellow professional journalists not to fall for rumour and innuendo. pic.twitter.com/6J4uCIOwnv
— Sidharth Bhatia (@bombaywallah) October 8, 2018
Finally, before concluding his reply, Sidharth Bhatia tried playing the victim and said that attempts to undermine his journalism or the journalism practised by The Wire will not succeed. India’s #MeToo movement as it is being called has now snowballed after Tanushree Dutta first spoke about her ordeals and alleged misconduct by Nana Patekar.
How many more names will emerge exposing the rampant sexual harassment and will the film as well media fraternity speak up remains to be seen. Stay tuned to The UBR for more updates.