#MeToo in India: Writer-actor Piyush Mishra accused of sexual misconduct by two women, apologises in statement

Suryasarathi Bhattacharya

October 11, 2018 18:39:53 IST

Editor's note: Following Rituparna Chatterjee's report — Is India’s #MeToo moment here? Women are angry and they are naming and shaming their abusers — Firstpost will publish a series of articles collating personal accounts of those who have made allegations of harassment, along with responses from those who have been accused of such behaviour. This is an ongoing exercise and will be updated to reflect new developments. If you wish to draw our attention to instances of harassment you may have experienced or witnessed, tweet to us @firstpost with the hashtag #MeToo.

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Noted poet-writer-actor Piyush Mishra is the latest name to have been called out on social media in the wake of #MeToo allegations in India. Freelance writer Ketki Joshi has alleged Mishra sexually harassed her at a private party in 2014; the party was organised by her friends, and Mishra was a celebrity guest.

Piyush Mishra. Facebook

Piyush Mishra. Facebook

In a Facebook post dated 11 October, Joshi writes that she was a fan of Mishra's work and "was elated to listen to him so closely" at the party. After they were introduced, Mishra asked her to come and sit beside him, Joshi claims.

"I praised him for his work and said I was a fan. He then started light flirting [sic] in front of approximately 20-25 people. Sang a song looking right into my eyes. Everything was pleasant until then. I took it as harmless flirting," Joshi writes in her post. 

Mishra was drinking all throughout the party, Joshi alleges, and seemed inebriated. She claims he grabbed her hand and rubbed his own hands against hers. Joshi says she asked her friends for help and extricated herself from the situation. However, she later bumped into Mishra and she alleges that once again, he brushed his hands against hers.

"He suddenly stood up and took a step towards me. I sensed he was coming to hug or grope me. I said in an authoritative raised voice, 'Aap please baith jaaiye' (Please, sit down!). The others heard and quickly came there and took me away," Joshi writes in her post.

Joshi says she didn't want to create a scene at someone else's party, especially because Mishra had been invited as a special guest, and so didn't make a hue and cry over the matter.

"He was drunk but he had all the intentions of coming close to me since he set his eyes on me [sic]," Joshi writes. As for why she finally spoke up, Joshi says, "I am putting this (out there) because... I want to give (other women) the courage to speak up."

When Firstpost reached Joshi for comment, she gave us permission to use her account as shared on Facebook, and said she doesn't want to add anything beyond what she has already stated.

Another woman, who wishes to stay anonymous, insists it is "high time" she speaks about her experience with Mishra. She had the chance to interview him last year in Delhi, but claims when she met him he was "so drunk that the odour of alcohol was detectable meters away." She then claims he asked her to bring her a cigarette in a very derogatory manner and on completion of the interview, behaved with her inappropriately.

When contacted by Firstpost, Piyush Mishra said this about Ketki Joshi's account: "I read the allegations made about me and forwarded to me by a few journalists. I do not remember the stated incident as I was probably a few drinks down. Nevertheless, I would like to extend my apology for making the lady uncomfortable either with my words or actions."

He further said about the anonymous account, "I cannot respond to anonymous allegations till I have further details."

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Network 18, of which Firstpost is a part, has received complaints of sexual harassment as well. The complaints which are within the purview of the workplace have been forwarded to our PoSH committee for appropriate action.

Updated Date: Oct 12, 2018 13:18 PM