Documentary filmmaker Nishtha Jain Sunday levelled allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct against journalist Vinod Dua as the #MeToo movement continued to sweep across Indian media, film, and entertainment.
In a post on Facebook, Jain (53)alleged that Dua, in separate incidents, told a “lewd joke”, was once “slobbering all over” her face and was “stalking” her. She told The Indian Express, “I spoke to my brother and friends about it. I didn’t want to lodge a complaint because I didn’t want to pursue it legally.”
Dua is a consulting editor at The Wire, and hosts a video show called “Jan Gan Man ki Baat,” and on October 5, his episode was about “India’s #MeToo moment where women from various professions are telling their stories of sexual harassment and naming and shaming the alleged perpetrators.” Reached for comment, Dua told The Indian Express, “I am in consultation with my lawyers and colleagues and will issue a public statement today or tomorrow.”
Later, the founding editors of The Wire said in a statement: “We have seen Nishtha Jain’s Facebook post where she accuses Vinod Dua, a consulting editor of The Wire, of an incident of sexual harassment in 1989. Dua denies the charge. Though the incident pertains to 26 years before Mr Dua’s association with The Wire, our ICC has taken note of Ms Jain’s allegation. We await the outcome of their deliberations in the matter.”
Jain, a graduate from Jamia Milia Islamia, runs Raintree Films, an independent documentary outfit in Mumbai. She is best known for her 2012 award-winning documentary film, Gulabi Gang — about a group of women in Bundelkhand, led by Sampat Pal Devi, fighting against gender violence and caste oppression.
According to Jain, the first incident took place in June 1989, when she met Dua for a job interview. She wrote: “…I left home with a fair amount of confidence for a job interview with a famous TV personality who had had a very popular show called Janvani… Before I could settle down he began telling a lewd sexual joke.”
A few months after the 1989 interview, Jain said she landed a job as a video editor at Newstrack, India Today’s video news magazine. “I would work late and when I’d leave the office building in F Block, Connaught Place, Dua would be waiting for me outside. He was stalking me. This is much before cell phones – how did he know I was working till late if he hadn’t asked somebody in my office about my schedule?” she said.
In her Facebook post, Jain alleged, “One night as I came down to the parking, he was there…He wanted to talk to me and asked me to enter his car… Assuming that he wanted to apologise for his behaviour, I entered the car but before I could even settle down he began slobbering all over my face. I managed to get out and get into my office car and leave.”
On Facebook, Jain referred to Dua’s daughter Mallika — a popular actor and comedian in Mumbai — and how Dua “outraged against Akshay Kumar’s sexist words to his daughter Malika”. After the post, Mallika was attacked on social media and in a statement on Twitter addressed to Jain said: “If at all my father is truly guilty of what you described, it is unacceptable, traumatic and painful. I am in solidarity with the movement and in support of the voices but your dragging my name into this was in terrible taste… This is my dad’s battle, I will let him fight it and I will stand by him.”
— Mallika Dua (@MallikaDua) October 14, 2018
Jain also took to Facebook to ask her supporters to not attack Mallika. “I don’t think Mallika Dua is responsible for her father’s actions but I hope she empathises with me in the same way she has with other women who have spoken up against their harassers,” she said.