Painter Jatin Das has been accused of sexual harassment by a fourth woman, who Thursday claimed that the Padma Bhushan recipient harassed her when she worked with him as his assistant in "1999 or 2000". Das denied the allegations, saying he has nothing to do with these.
He was first 'outed' on October 16 by Nisha Bora, co-founder of a paper-making company, as part of India's ongoing #MeToo movement. Bora claimed Das molested her at his studio 14 years ago.
In a post, shared by #MeToo activist Sandhya Menon Thursday, Malvika Kundu alleged that Das misbehaved with her when she was 18 years old. When contacted by PTI, 76-year-old Das said, "It's very vulgar. I don't know what you people are trying to do here. I have nothing to do with this. I don't know what more I can say."
Kundu accused Das of "unnecessarily" touching her, calling her "baby" incessantly -- even when she objected to his usage of that word -- and standing "too close" when she worked for him.
This all happened on the very first day of the job at his (Das') home, which required cataloguing of his collection of books, she wrote. "He made me so uncomfortable that I hated the three days I lasted on this job. Telling him off didn't stop him from calling me baby."
"... Apart from the constant baby's he would often unnecessarily touch me, for example by running down his hand down my back, or he would come over, stand too close and speak softly and intently to me about something that could have been said from across the room," she added.
In her account, Kundu also recounted the second day of her job when Das' son visited him along with his friend. Kundu wrote that she clearly remembers how she envied his son's girlfriend then because "she didn't have to spend her day with her back up, watching for a roving hand or a stray baby".
"This girl was about my age and even dressed and carried herself a little like I did, but Jatin Das managed to withhold his creepy endearments and to treat her respectfully," her account reads.
Kundu said the "final straw" came on the third day when Das told her that he was older than her "and presumably therefore wiser" and that she being "so young" should be more "receptive" to him. "Specifically, he said I should think of myself as a matki and I should let him 'plant his seed in it'. I may be fuzzy on some of the details of those few days, but these particular words I won't forget," she added.
Kundu, who doesn't wish to have any "redressal" in her case, hoped that adding her voice to this "chorus of women helps dismantle the sense of entitlement of men like him (Das)".
Garusha Katoch was the second woman to share her account of alleged harassment at the hands of Das on Twitter. She said when she interned with the painter, he alienated her from other interns and offered to set up a spare room for her at his house in Asiad Village.
Journalist Anushree Majumdar said she had a strange experience with Das when she was fresh out of college in 2006 and had gone to pick some paintings from his studio. She claims Das offered her a job as his assistant, but then she got alarmed when he started asking her "strange questions" and insisted on her leaving the current job and start working for him.
"On the day of the opening, he called me to tell me that he was coming only to see me; and I must work for him after the festival is done. I spent all evening at Alliance Francaise hiding from him. He called many times the next day; he gave up when I didn't answer his calls," she tweeted.