Artist and Padma Bhushan awardee Jatin Das has been accused of sexual harassment by Mumbai-based entrepreneur Nisha Bora.
In a post on Twitter on Tuesday, Bora accused Das of forcing himself on her when she visited his studio in Khidki Village in 2004, after she had spent a day working for him at his home in Asiad 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,” she wrote.
When contacted, Das, 76, told The Indian Express, “I don’t recollect her at all — face, name or anything. They are saying my residence was at Asiad Village, which is right, but anybody can refer to a place. The allegation is cheap and vulgar.” When asked if he was contemplating legal action, he said, “Right now I am just shocked.”
In her post, Bora, who was then 28 years old, recounted being introduced to Das by her family at a dinner event, following which the artist invited her to assist him in his work. After spending a day working with the artist at his house, Bora was asked to go to the studio the next day, which is when the alleged incident took place. “I recall the feeling of his beard on my skin. I pushed him away and moved away from him,” she wrote.
Bora said she was prompted to share her story after she came across a post on Instagram, which also accused Das of sexual harassment. The post was shared on Monday on Scene And Herd, an anonymously run account that has been sharing stories of abuse from within the art world. “Earlier, when I talked about it with a few senior female artists, I was told that this was par for the course. They brushed it off, saying they have all dealt with this. But when I saw there was one person who had put out her own account of her encounter with him (Das), I knew I didn’t want it to die without a whimper. I wanted to share my story,” Bora told The Indian Express.
According to the story shared on Instagram, in 2013, Das suggested that the survivor, who was 30 at the time, assist him in his work. She wrote, “I landed up in Delhi to take this offer as I was just starting my career in the art world. I was asked the same night to change to my night clothes and come to his bedroom. I was in shock and locked myself in my room. I left the very next morning. I have not heard anything from him after.”
The survivor, an artist, told The Indian Express, “I called a friend to come and pick me up the next day, because I was in shock and finding it difficult to walk out on my own.” When she tried to share her story with colleagues, she said it was brushed aside. “But now, I saw that a lot of people are sharing their stories, and I felt it was safe to talk about what happened to me.”
When asked to respond to the allegation made in the Instagram post, Das said, “How are these people roping me into this? This is ridiculous… I don’t even know these people… I don’t know how they are making these allegations.”
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