Author Chetan Bhagat recently admitted to the screenshots posted by a woman alleging that he has harassed her in the past. In a string of screenshots posted by the woman, one can see persistent messages sent by the renowned author in an attempt to 'woo' her.
As the news spread like wildfire on social media, Bhagat apologised to her as well as his wife Anusha and said that he had realised that he was married and hadn't felt that kind of a connection in a while. In his previous statement, he claimed that he found the person special but he erred a bit. In his latest statement, the author claims what he did was not harassment and not a 'Me Too' incident.
Read his full statement:
"A letter to my fans, readers
Dear fans and readers,
Hi. I want you to know that I am suffering because my name is being dragged into needless controversies, and my family and I are being harassed. In the garb of the #MeToo movement, which definitely has genuine cases, I am being attacked and vilified. Let me tell you upfront – I am not a harasser. Never was, never will be.
A few days ago, a girl who had become friendly with me leaked some screenshots of what now almost everyone agrees was a flirtatious, but friendly and polite conversation. There was a background to it of course, which was omitted. Anyway, since I am married, it was seen as an attempted infidelity, and hence the right thing to do was to apologise, which I did instantly. To the person in question and to my wife. Beyond that, this was a personal matter. Legally too, there was nothing more to it, as anyone who has seen those chats would agree.
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. A ‘responsible’ newspaper put my name on its front page as lead story – because you know, you need a famous guy to make a headline. All this because I had a flirtatious conversation with a girl who was conversing back with me.
I must say many people did understand the difference in the cases and conveyed it to me. However, it was not easy for my family - bearing up stoically and supporting me unconditionally –to answer inane queries from all and sundry. Please bear in mind that baseless allegations like these affect my wife, my 70-year-old mother, my elderly in-laws and my teenage twin sons. Each of them suffer in their own way.
The amount of suffering a false charge like this creates is immense. This is why we have courts, a legal system and corroboration of charges. Have we stopped believing in these?
Anyway, even when all this happened, I kept quiet. The movement, I understand, is leading to some positive change. Fine, suffer a bit if it is helping overall. I stopped promoting my new book, which I have worked on every day, for years. For the first time ever, I didn’t even thank my readers on the launch day, even though I am flooded with literally hundreds of messages daily across my social media congratulating me. As if I am some convict, I am supposed to shut the hell up lest the mob unleash its fury.
I could still live with all this. However, then things began to take an even weirder turn. 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?.
So, here’s an example of what also took place. And no, I am not kidding. This really happened. And since I am going through this situation right now, you need to read this to understand what’s happening.
The “Erotica” Writer
A couple of years ago, a person who described herself as an “erotica” writer met me as part of some shoot. She sent me a story first (and I have it in my email, anybody curious can get it checked.) Here’s a sample of what was in that story. Again, this is not me writing. These are her lines she sent to me first. (Dear Facebook, don’t remove this – I am making a point here).
However, I had never met a person like her before: a female writer of sex/ porn/ erotica (as an aside, from what I understand, if it is meant to turn you on and is extremely explicit, it is porn, not erotica) was someone I had never met. And since I am a writer and I research people and human nature, I wanted to ask her some questions. Also, at that time, 50 Shades of Grey was a rage, so I wanted to know what drives people to write and read all this. These were questions I could have asked a writer like her anywhere – like for instance at a panel at a literature fest.
Anyway, so we had a chat, an amiable chat. I was not interested in her in any other way other than as a research subject. She was happy to answer the questions. And that was that.
Cut to many years later – guess what? Chetan’s name is being dragged through mud, let me join the party – and she puts out those screenshots. Her buddies high-five her, without knowing any context, and she becomes a victim too! This really has happened. I am not going to give her publicity but you can find the screenshots. 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.
I meet a lot of people. However, I never have or ever will harass anyone. The writer you love and read may not be a perfect person (never said I was), but I am not a harasser. I need you to know that and believe that. I also want to tell you this: given the nature of my job and how busy I am, I can’t help everyone who comes to me. Hence, I piss off a lot of people too. I often have to decline requests like: co-writing a story, writing the foreword for a book, attending book launches, tweeting about someone’s book, coming on a TV show, giving someone an interview, introducing someone to someone else, helping them get political or Bollywood access, mentoring them to be a writer, reading/, editing/ writing their manuscript, coming for their office event, coming to their party, promoting their event, write a column to match their political view, becoming their friend or mentor – the list goes on and on. My office staff will tell you, every day we are flooded with such requests. I can’t do them all, and while most understand and take it well, some don’t. And since I have been working as a writer for over a decade, that some may literally become hundreds of people.
Yes, I might have pissed of a lot of people. Some of those people are women. However, pissing someone off is not harassing them. And trying to bring me down in public by hiding behind a genuine movement, and the fact that one doesn’t question a woman doesn’t make you right. The screenshots she has posted are of a private conversation she took part in. She has done so to malign and harass me and put me in a category. As any lawyer will tell you, that is a crime. Talking to someone isn’t.
I would hence, like to officially put a stop to this nonsense targeting me. I am no harasser, and I need to work on issues in my personal life that are not anybody’s business. From now on, Ms. Erotica-Writer or anybody else, I would not be responding to any such posts. The courts of the country are available to you; please go there if you have a case (PS: you don’t).
I am also going to stop feeling ashamed, and am going to start talking about my new book,whichisalabor of love and is getting rave reviews from readers all over the country. Please don’t try to ride on my fame, spoil my moment and definitely, definitely do not hurt or harass my family.
The #MeToo movement has its good parts and has some good people with genuine grievances. I am with them. However, the movement is already getting corrupted and genuine survivors will suffer if people don’t take it seriously. In the US, each revelation follows months of investigation and research. It isn’t just a DM posted. Or a years’ old screenshot (which can easily be doctored as WhatsApp allows you to delete your own chats, making it seem the other side was doing all the talking). The reason for this is not just a higher standard of journalism over there, but also strong defamation laws that can bring a publisher of wrong or malafide information down. That’s missing in India, so the chances of the movement being abused are higher in India.
I am going to move on from this and ignore the noise. I genuinely want to thank those who stood by me and said what I did is not a #MeToo incident. Thank you. Takes a lot to stand up for a man who is being slandered, and many journalists (female ones as well), readers and fans still did. From me and Anusha both - Thank you!
Happy Navratri, may the Goddess’ blessings be with you.
During the course of his post, Chetan Bhagat also gave three samples sent to him by the 'Erotica' writer to elucidate his claims.
Chetan Bhagat recently announced the release date of his upcoming book titled 'The Girl In Room 105'. The book 'The Girl in Room 105: An Unlove story' hit the stands on October 9, while the book is already available for pre-order online.
Tanushree Dutta coming out about an incident that took place on the sets of 'Horn Ok Pleasss' has kicked off India's very own 'Me Too' movement. With several women come forward and speak about any such incidents that they may have faced, several eminent personalities including Vikas Bahl, Rajat Kapoor and Kailash Kher have been accused of misbehaviour towards women. Recently, producer of a popular 90s show, Vinita Nanda opened up about when the lead actress of the show was misbehaved with by veteran actor Alok Nath.