#MeToo in India: Kiran Nagarkar, Pablo Bartholomew named in accusations; photographer responds with statement
Allegations against Kiran Nagarkar and Pablo Bartholomew emerged on Twitter on Friday | #MeToo
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.
Two well-known names from the art and culture world were among the many named when journalist Sandhya Menon (@TheRestlessQuill on Twitter) shared allegations of sexual harassment from women who had reached out to her.
Menon had tweeted about her own experiences with sexual harassment during her career as a journalist. She accused Times of India’s Hyderabad editor KR Sreenivas and Gautam Adhikari, another former TOI and DNA editor, of having behaved in a sexually inappropriate manner with her.
As Sandhya’s tweets were reshared several times on the microblogging platform, other women too stepped forward with stories of their own. Others reached out to Sandhya to share their allegations anonymously.
It was through these accounts that the allegations against Nagarkar and Bartholomew emerged.
The first allegation against Nagarkar surfaced on Friday, 5 October. A woman told Sandhya that she had been harassed by the writer when they met in a hotel room for an interview. The woman’s account detailed a pattern of behavior where Nagarkar inched closer to her, then pulled her in for a forced hug when the interview was completed, fingering her bra strap. He also tried to convince the woman to Skype with him, “especially at night”.
The second allegation, posted by Poorva Joshi, involved yet another interview, this time at Nagarkar’s home. Joshi said that the environment at the writer’s house was “one of the most uncomfortable ones I have been in”, alleging that he sat too close to her during the interview and insisted on a hug later.
A third woman, Shilpi Guha — who covered the culture beat for The Times of India in Chennai at the time she encountered Nagarkar (August 2015) — says she met the writer at a talk and approached him for an interview. Nagarkar initially told her he’d speak to her over Skype the following evening; later, he put his arm around Shilpi and touched her inappropriately.
“I was pretty shook up when it happened a few more times… I froze and didn’t know how to excuse myself from the discussion. I was close to tears but somehow managed to move his arm and excuse myself from the conversation,” Shilpi recounted.
She discussed the incident with her editor who asked her to leave the venue immediately, and they decided not to pursue the interview either.
Fans of Nagarkar's work expressed their deep disappointment and shock over reports that the writer may have sexually harassed women.
On 11 October, a statement addressing these allegations was posted by an unverified Twitter account attributed to Nagarkar:
— Kiran Nagarkar (@iKiranNagarkar) October 11, 2018
The allegations against Pablo Bartholomew are from a woman who says the photographer began harassing her after she met him for an interview:
“…he began calling on my cellphone to ask me to accompany him for a short trip outside the city. I politely declined, but he insisted, so I began ignoring his calls… (Later) I was told by my editor that (Bartholomew) had communicated his concern about my ability to write an article on his work.”
“He used his power to discredit me in front of my employers, while pressurising me to go away (with him),” the woman said.
In a statement given to Firspost, however, Bartholomew said he was "at a loss to address or respond to the accusation". This is the full text of Bartholomew's response:
I am responding late to the post on Twitter by Deepanjana Pal of 05 October 2018 written anonymously by her friend alleging that I had harassed her over the phone after she interviewed me, and that I had subsequently spoken to her editor derisively about what she had written. I am not on Twitter and had no access to the post until it appeared in the media.
With no other context, timeline and explanation beyond the account of the anonymous person’s story, it makes it quite worrisome that anyone can name and be anonymous, with lack of answerability or fact. With no facts presented, I am at loss to address or respond to the stated accusation.
I hereby record that I am committed to Gender Equality. If I unintentionally and/or inadvertently have made the concerned individual feel uncomfortable, I would like to be offered the opportunity to explain myself instead of carrying forward this charade of naming and shaming.
My intentions have never been to offend or harass anyone. But if I have come across as such, then the matter should be probed fairly, and I will give it my full cooperation, or, this should be resolved through a comprehensive dialogue where I, too, am given the chance to put forth my version.
Firstpost has reached out to Nagarkar for his comment regarding the allegations. He has not responded to our emails. We will update this story if he does.
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.
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