After apologising earlier for messages he had sent a woman years earlier, author Chetan Bhagat on Wednesday said that he and his family are being harassed after his name surfaced in the ongoing #MeToo campaign.
“I am not a harasser. Never was, never will be.” he wrote in a Facebook post that was shared publicly.
Bhagat said that the leaked conversation between him and a woman had a background, which has been completely omitted. He said that he had already apologised both to his wife, and the woman, soon after the post surfaced.
“Beyond that, this was a personal matter. Legally too, there was nothing more to it, as anyone who has seen those chats would agree,” the writer said.
“Despite this, my name was added to a growing list of people accused of the most heinous crimes, and flashed all over as a part of rape, sexual assault and all kinds of major criminal activity stories,” he said.
The author said that he had also stopped promoting his book after the allegations since he didn’t want to speak up against the #MeToo movement.
“Fine, suffer a bit if it is helping overall. I stopped promoting my new book, which I have worked on every day, for years,” he said.
But the author said he had been unfairly targeted.
“It was now time for everyone who had a grudge against me (and, you know, plenty do on Twitter) to have a go at me. Kick a man when he is low, classy right?” he said.
Also read: Missing from the #MeToo movement – the men
He described his version of events as it had taken place with details of the erotica sent to him. Bhagat said the woman had sent him explicit messages and asked him to co-write a story with her. Bhagat said he only wanted to ask her a few questions for “research”. Bhagat said people believed the woman’s accusations without knowing the context and that she had become effectively the victim.
“She is obviously being trolled a lot for them, as people have now finally realized what is real #MeToo and what is #FakeMeToo. Unfortunately in India no matter what or how noble the cause, it always ends up being corrupted,” he said.
Bhagat said that some people were trying to bring him down in public by hiding behind a genuine movement. He went on to say that he might have upset a lot of women, but that wasn’t harassment. And he thanked people who had supported him.
What had happened
On 5 October, a journalist on shared screenshots of a conversation between her and Chetan Bhagat, in which the author says he wants to woo her and ignores her protests that he is married. Soon after, Bhagat released a statement on Facebook, saying he wanted to “apologise to the person concerned”, that he had felt “a strong connection” with her, and that he may have “misread the friendliness”.
He wrote he was sharing what he had told his wife, and clarified that “there never was nothing physical, no lewd pictures or words that were ever exchanged.”
Arguing that maybe he “was going through a phase, maybe these things just happen” he agreed that it was “stupid” of him.
The #MeToo movement in India has seen women from multiple fields coming forward with their alleged experiences of sexual harassment and naming the men allegedly responsible for them.