Friends in high places: Suhel Seth with Arun Jaitley.

Friends in high places: Suhel Seth with Arun Jaitley.

#MeToo fire rages and how; adman Suhel Seth accused of sexual assault

I'm not a harasser, being attacked and vilified: Chetan Bhagat on #MeToo

Agency Report | New Delhi | 10 October, 2018 | 08:20 PM

The #MeToo fire is spreading and fast, consuming many known names in different fields. Now the social blabber mouth Suhel Seth has been accused by a filmmaker of sexual assault even as celebrated author Chetan Bhagat also in the pit tells his accuser please don’t ride on my fame. Wake up Mr Bhagat!

A film director and creative producer shared on Wednesday a number of screenshots of a lengthy WhatsApp message sent to marketing consultant Suhel Seth recalling an experience she had “buried deeply”.

The woman alleged that despite her persistent declining, Seth asked her to join him for an ice cream in Janpath.

“You used your power to take me home instead… You then threw yourself at me although I was clearly uncomfortable. You shoved your tongue in my throat even when I resisted — I whacked your head and said ‘behave yourself’. You put your hand into my kurta and grabbed my breast,” she alleged.

She further wrote that she managed to stop him and went to the washroom. “Thank you for not raping me that night. Thank you for sending your driver to drop me home… Over time, I’ve learned to manage you. But no woman should ever have to ‘manage’ the misuse of power and ‘manage’ being sexually assaulted,” she wrote.

“You have abused your power for years on end. With what I’ve seen at a close range, if every woman you’ve ever laid hands on starts to speak up, I assure you, there will be at least 1,000 women who will say Suhel Seth? Yes. #MeToo. It ends here,” she added.

She maintained that she had come out and spoken up not for want of publicity or money, but because she wanted a “closure”. The screenshots were of a message sent directly to Seth in which the woman recalled her harrowing experience.
Bestselling author Chetan Bhagat, who has been facing a lot of flak after screenshots of his WhatsApp conversations were leaked on social media, asserted on Wednesday that he is being “attacked and vilified”.

“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,” Bhagat said in an elaborate four-page statement.

The bestselling author, whose latest book “The Girl in Room 105″ released on Tuesday, said that the screenshots in question were of “a flirtatious, but friendly and polite conversation”.

He maintained that such “baseless allegations” affect his wife, 70-year-old mother, his elderly in-laws and his twin teenaged sons.

“Each of them suffers in their own way,” he added, before mentioning that #MeToo movement “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,” he added.

The celebrity writer with a Twitter following of over 12.3 million further released three brief excerpts from a story by an “erotica writer”, the woman who released his screenshots.

The three samples, Bhagat maintained, were meant “to turn you on” and were “extremely explicit, it is porn, not erotica”. He said that he asked her the questions he could have asked a writer like her anywhere –at a panel at a lit fest, for instance.

“Cut to many years later – guess what? Chetan’s name is being dragged through the 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,” he added.

In an apparent reference to the screenshots released, he said that “WhatsApp allows you to delete your own chats, making it seem the other side was doing all the talking”.

Bhagat said that 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,” he said.

Bhagat further said that he is “also going to stop feeling ashamed” and is now going to start talking about his new book, which he described as “a labor of love”.

“Please don’t try to ride on my fame, spoil my moment and definitely, definitely do not hurt or harass my family,” he said. (IANS)