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HomeOpinionsI believe Tanushree Dutta, but I don't believe Bollywood or the Media

I believe Tanushree Dutta, but I don’t believe Bollywood or the Media

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Manga प्रेमी| चित्रकलाकार| हिन्दू|स्वधर्मे निधनं श्रेयः| #AariyanRedPanda दक्षिणपंथी चहेटक (हिन्दी में कहें तो राइट विंग ट्रोल)| कृण्वन्तो विश्वं आर्यम्|

Recent allegation of sexual harassment on Nana Patekar by Tanushree Dutta have not evoked a reaction as it should have. Many in media, for quite some time now have been talking of when will the #MeToo moment happen in India. They are the same people who stood by Tarun Tejpal and harassed the victim using the power of the media. Today they are angry at Amitabh Bhachchan and Amir Khan for not commenting on the accusations. Mr. Bachchan sited not being privy to any details for not commenting saying he was neither Tanushree nor Nana, how can he comment. Mr. Khan on the other hand said that the allegaitions are serious and must be investigated. What else should they have said? Should they have also accused or abused Nana Patekar for doing something they have no proof of him doing? Or should they have dismissed Tanushree Dutta’s allegations, calling them lies?

Many media “stories” or Opinion Pieces have also somehow brought in the allegations on United States’ Judge Brett Kavanaugh. I fail to see how that is relevant or in any way connected to the extremely disturbing allegations made by Ms. Dutta. I do not understand this inexplicable need to see everything in India and Indian society by comparing it with USA or Europe. Looking at Indian issues through USA or Europe helps nobody. No regular person on the streets cares for who is going to be Chief Justice of US Supreme Court, though he may care about how India treats sexual harassment.

Many in general public through Social Media have questioned why Ms. Dutta suddenly after ten years is remembering this, and coming out now. Some have also brought up issue of fake allegations and cited example of the ‘Dangal’ actress Zaira Wasim who got an innocent man arrested under POCSO. But one must also understand that it is difficult to come out and raise allegations due to trauma, fear of societal reaction and many psychological issues.

And simply because another person lied or that statistically speaking more than 50% of such allegation are false doesn’t mean that the current allegation is also untrue. After all, truth does not depend on the statistical likeliness of a statement being true but on the facts of incident. Hence, such allegations must be taken seriously whenever they are raised. It is also to be remembered that Ms. Dutta had actually raised these allegations at the time that she claims to have been sexually harassed she had complained to Cine and Television Artistes Association (CINTAA) demanding compensation for damage to her property and reputation after she was fired from the film.

I don’t expect anything of substance from a fraternity that came in support of Sanjay Dutt, a convicted criminal and an industry that supports Salman Khan, another convicted criminal, who was accused of domestic violence and also of homicide. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is the daughter-in-law of Amitabh Bachchan and what has he done about Salman Khan allegedly assaulting her? And media demands and expects him to be vocal about allegations by Tanushree Dutta?

I also don’t expect anything from a corrupt media that is pontificating today but was actively supporting Tarun Tejpal. The same media that today claims to stand by Tanushree Dutta, was siding with the harasser instead of the victim- a journalist- in the NBSA hearing just recently.

However, what I don’t understand is what the end goal here is. Let’s say I believe Ms. Dutta. I believe her, despite not knowing her or anything about her. I believe her, without any proof, that a man sexually harassed her. And let’s say just like me everybody who heard her believes her. What now? What does it change? Have we made any progress in this case? What does Ms. Dutta want us to do about the allegations she has made?

I am not asking these questions to demoralize her nor am I trying to defend Nana Patekar. After all they are both equally unknown to me. By publicly raising these allegations she, a stranger, is asking us to believe her word when she accuses Mr. Patekar, another stranger. A stranger is asking us to ruin the life and reputation of another stranger. Should we do it simply because she accused him and we feel sorry for her? And that is why I ask what is going to happen by ranting and complaining on TV, on Social Media, to journalists? Do you want Nana Patekar to suffer the consequences as he should or not? If yes, file a police complaint. Let there be an investigation and have him be prosecuted under relevant sections of Indian Penal Code.

If a crime has been committed there has to be punishment as per law, punishment in form of loss of reputation and livelihood is unacceptable if the crime cannot be proven. A civilized society that believes in justice has to believe in the “presumption of innocence until proven guilty”. Hence, Ms. Dutta, you have my sympathy but not my belief. That does not mean that I think you are lying but that I don’t know what the truth is. So, until an investigation finds Nana Patekar guilty, do not expect us or even the film industry- as immoral and hypocritical as it may be- to boycott him. Until he is proven to be guilty, you can only expect our sympathy and moral support, if it means anything all.

Those who want to see these allegations as India’s #MeToo moment are deeply mistaken about it being something good and something to be replicated. Whether a person is guilty or not, whether they should be punished or not and how they should be punished can not depend on public opinion. It cannot depend on whether some people with some authority of hiring and firing support the accuser or accused. Guilt has to be established by full, proper and fair investigation followed by prosecution and punishment if found guilty.

The #MeToo movement is nothing more than people being fired because the public outraged when somebody said something which may or may not be true. This is not justice. This is the opposite of justice. People are punished for being accused and are denied due process. What happens when a victim comes forward and media doesn’t cover it as extensively or public doesn’t outrage as much because fatigue has set in due to constant outrage? Should the guilty go scott free because the public is too tired to outrage?

Let us also consider what happens to those who are punished by #MeToo outrage. Louis C.K., for example, was accused of horrifying sexual misconduct by multiple women last year, which he admitted as being true but he has started performing again this year. Was he jailed or punished in anyway? Were there legal consequences? But Public Intellectuals and feminists in India want to emulate #MeToo? Why?

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