Amidst news that Nana Patekar has been given a clean chit in the sexual harassment case against him, Tanushree Dutta spoke to The Quint, from the US, on why she thinks the investigation in her case has been compromised and alleges that Nana Patekar makes “crores of rupees” through Naam Foundation, enough to squash any case against him.
Here are excerpts from the conversation:
Q: The police have closed the case and filed a B-report. They have said that your complaint was “malicious” and “fake.” What do you have to say about that?
Tanushree Dutta: They could have filed an A report or a C report. The nature of that activity, filing the B report, and with their commentary, is so vicious. For me, what they did was malicious. They wrote that it is malicious and fake and revenge. First of all, revenge... revenge for what? What would a person, who for 10 years has been saying the same thing over and over again, have to gain? I stand by my statement and there is no discrepancy in what I have said. Another thing that they lied about in the report is that there was no complaint filed with CINTAA (Cine & TV Artists Association) for sexual harassment.
That is an outright lie. They are getting caught in their own web of deceit because it is in the public domain now. My handwritten letter to CINTAA, which I wrote in 2008... the press also has copies of it. So that letter corroborates everything I have written in my FIR in 2018. But there are many discrepancies coming out from what they are saying from their side. The second thing is that CINTAA also issued a public apology last year that they did not act on the complaint and did no investigation. So, this report is completely false. That means that the police has not done any investigation or they are twisting facts and lying through their teeth.
You can also LISTEN to the full interview with Tanushree Dutta here:
“They have taken statements from Daisy Shah who is Ganesh Acharya’s long term assistant and close confidante. Why is her testament valid? Daisy Shah was on the set that day and she claimed to not remember anything. She didn’t say that it didn’t happen. She said that she didn’t remember. She is a long- term confidante of Ganesh Acharya, I have seen her sitting on his lap.”
Q: The police has said that they interviewed 13 witnesses and none of them could corroborate the instance of sexual harassment.
Tanushree Dutta: The witness statements... I saw the list of witnesses. Ninety percent of those witnesses weren’t even present on the set. They have taken statements from Daisy Shah who is Ganesh Acharya’s long term assistant and close confidante. Why is her testament valid? Daisy Shah was on the set that day and she claimed to not remember anything.
She didn’t say that it didn’t happen. She said that she didn’t remember. She is a long- term confidante of Ganesh Acharya, I have seen her sitting on his lap. And this was on video also. Every shoot that Daisy and Ganesh did together at some point of time people would see her sitting on his lap. So that is their close proximity.
Why will she corroborate my story because his name is also in the FIR? He is also one of the accused. They took testimony from Ratan Jain and two other people. They are producer association members. How can they be witnesses? Because in 2008, when I had filed a complaint with CINTAA, they called me for a meeting. The producers association members and CINTAA members were sitting there, and instead of helping me, they were charging me, threatening me to pay up money because that time the producers were scared that I might sue them. Why are they getting these witnesses who themselves were party to covering up this crime? The complaint I had filed with the police, they didn’t even take an FIR at that time.
That proves that the police has been corrupt since day one. I went through the list and I was like none of them were on set. Except Daisy I couldn’t recognise anyone else who was there. Janice’s (Janice Sequeira, journalist) statement corroborated my story, so that should be enough. Shiny Shetty (assistant director, Horn Ok Pleassss) too. With Shiny, they only recorded half the statement and didn’t bother to record her complete statement. She was corroborating my story and they just recorded half the statement and said we have to go somewhere. Then Shiny had to go home.
We kept requesting the police to record the other half and they didn’t do it. Obviously, half a statement can’t go as one, so they cut off Shiny’s statement. But it didn’t get completed because of them. Janice has given her full statement. In a sexual harassment case two witnesses are more than enough.
The third witness, Wasim has been discouraged and threatened from going to the police station. We have been chasing Wasim for months. He says he will come and he doesn’t show up. He is scared out of his wits. In a conversation with my lawyers he even admitted to getting regular phone calls from Nana and his team. And he says that he is not afraid and he’ll still come, but he didn’t. For three or four months he was away in his home town because someone was unwell. Clearly, he is getting threatened. Obviously, he isn’t able to take all this stress. We had other people also who we wanted to bring in as witnesses, who were present on set and would have been able to give a clearer picture, but they had gotten calls even before we had filed an FIR and asked to shut up.
But we don’t need to have 15-16 witnesses. We need only two. In a harassment case how many witnesses do you need? Then what about rape cases which never have witnesses?
“The third witness, Wasim has been discouraged and threatened from going to the police station. We have been chasing Wasim for months. He says he will come and he doesn’t show up. He is scared out of his wits. In a conversation with my lawyers he even admitted to getting regular phone calls from Nana and his team.”
Q: So you are saying that the police has not made any attempt to actually build the case?
Tanushree Dutta: No, they have not. So if a harassment case is getting dismissed despite all this evidence then what hope is there for any rape case to be proved in the court of law? This was a clear cut black and white case. Janice, Wasim, Shiny - they were corroborating large parts of my story.
Q: You have said that Nana Patekar has bought the clean chit, and your lawyer has said that you would challenge the report. Are you going forward with the writ petition?
Tanushree Dutta: There is still some grey area. Whether he has got a clean chit or police have submitted a report asking for a clean chit from the court. There is no clarity on that because the police has simply been unwilling to give us the documentation of what they have submitted. So there is a possibility that the whole thing is bogus. That he hasn’t actually got a clean chit and they have only submitted their own malicious report to get a clean chit. And that the clean chit has actually not come yet. And prematurely these people have released it in the press that he has gotten a clean chit because the police have completely kept us in the blind. They took the FIR because they were under public pressure. This is what happened in 2008 and again they have been hand-in-glove with the accused. It could be that the whole news is false because police can’t give a clean chit. They submit their report and the court gives the clean chit. In this case, I am saying the police has been corrupt.
It’s only a matter of how much is paid to whom. In our country it is not an unheard thing of magistrates, cops and everybody getting bribed. These people have several crores at their disposal.
“These people (Nana) have crores of rupees and black money that they’ve collected unfairly in the name of farmers through Naam Foundation, which is at their disposal to squash any case under the sun. For them giving Rs 1 crore to any authority is not a big deal.”
Q: Please go on.
Tanushree Dutta: This is off topic but relevant to why they can bribe everyone. Nana Patekar’s Naam Foundation is a corrupt foundation that collects huge sums of money and this is all in public domain. It is all online. It makes huge amounts of money in the form of donations from all over the country. They get donations under the government’s CSRS scheme. There is rule for corporate companies to put 3 per cent of their profits into social funding. That money either they have to give to government or if they have their own NGO, then they can put it into their own NGO.
Now, that money (paid to the government) runs into thousands of crores. That government then allocates that fund to NGOs. Any licensed NGO in our country can ask the government for this funding.
Second source of funding is these banks. Banks and financial institutions, they donate large sums of money to charity. Third source is other charities across the world. These people have YouTube videos promoting themselves. Naam Foundation promotes itself as an NGO that works for the upliftment of poor farmers, drought hit and suicidal farmers.
Now, at the helm of it supposedly this foundation is an actor, who is a National Award winner and he has the clout. We have no idea how much money they have collected in the name of these poor farmers. And what they do to show, they do is one event a year, where they call widows of the farmers and give them Rs 15,000. What is Rs 15,000? With their mounting debts it wouldn’t even last them 3 months. Farmers die because their debts are in lakhs, not Rs 10-15,000. Suicide rates are growing. If these organisations were actually putting their money into it, this wouldn’t happen.
I am explaining the scale of the scam because I know about how much money gets transferred from the US, Canada and EU into developing nations through these organisations. They do ask for reports, but it’s easy to submit a bogus report. These guys get the folder, they don’t send someone to check what’s happening on the ground. They have to take the word for it. And why they take the word for it, because Nana Patekar supposedly has a name of a National Award winning actor, that gives him credibility.
But they don’t do anything. Rs 15,000, one sewing machine and one sari. One big media function, hugging some widows and this whole hype is created. The media image is created that he is such a charitable person. Nobody’s digging deep and finding what is happening to the crores of rupees. First day they opened their bank account for Naam Foundation, they got Rs 60-80 lakh.
Why I brought Naam Foundation into the picture is to prove to the public that these people (Nana) have crores of rupees and black money that they’ve collected unfairly in the name of farmers through Naam Foundation which is at their disposal to squash any case under the sun. For them giving Rs 1 crore to any authority is not a big deal.
“Our next step of action would be to challenge that report, because the most malicious and evil part of the whole thing is the B report in which they are claiming that my complaint is malicious. So I am definitely going to counter that. I want to expose the entire system for supporting these criminals. Because clearly in our country the system can be bought.”
Q: What do you think you want to do going forward? Do you still want to pursue it. And if they have indeed given him a clean chit, what have you thought of doing?
Tanushree Dutta: So we don’t know how to proceed. But our next step of action would be to challenge that report, because the most malicious and evil part of the whole thing is the B report in which they are claiming that my complaint is malicious. So I am definitely going to counter that. I want to expose the entire system for supporting these criminals. Because clearly in our country the system can be bought. This ain’t heaven. Everyone knows that. People don’t want to go to cops because they feel nothing happens. Again, I want to bring Naam Foundation in because I want to tell the people that these people like Nana, they pretend and show that he lives a very poor life. That is not true. He’s got cars and bungalows and foreign bank accounts and what not. It’s blood money. He is sitting on the money that should be going to the farmers.
“Vinta Nanda... 20 years ago it happened, how will she prove it? They called her case also false and malicious. And with Alok Nath, not one but several women came out against him, but he gets a clean chit. Does that change the truth? But the worst disappointment is Bollywood reinstating them when everyone knows what the truth is.”
Q: Have you followed the #MeToo cases that came to light after you spoke about your experience?
Tanushree Dutta: I followed Vinta Nanda’s case. Another disappointment. And Alok Nath getting reinstated in a movie. And then I also followed Vikas Bahl’s case. Again that was quite a disappointment. Getting a clean chit is really no measure of their innocence because in Vikas Bahl’s case, the woman didn’t press charges. Everybody can understand now why (she did that). How is she going to prove? She knew that if she gets into an FIR and a court case, she will put herself through further harassment, further embarrassment for her family and herself. Hassle of another level.
An FIR is not an easy. You get cross questioned and counter questioned. For a rape survivor it’s not easy to go through that. And especially if it has happened years ago, what proof do you have? There is no DNA evidence anymore. They’ll just call it consensual. So clearly she saved herself a lot of trouble by saying that she stands by her statement, but she doesn’t want to get into the legal process. Me with all the proof that I had already, they closed the case... that is disappointing. So Vikas Bahl gets a clean chit, but that doesn’t prove anything.
Vinta Nanda, 20 years ago it happened, how will she prove it? They called her case also false and malicious. And with Alok Nath, not one but several women came out against him, but he gets a clean chit. Does that change the truth? But the worst disappointment is Bollywood reinstating them when everyone knows what the truth is and that they have committed crimes. So, it was impossible to prove, but for me, it was 100 per cent possible for these guys to get arrested. The amount of proof I had was overwhelming. The video footage, the witnesses and the circumstantial evidence and the CINTAA letter. You put the pieces of the puzzle together and it is very easy to build a solid case and the cops had said that to us. Basically, they are calling me a false and malicious liar. Obviously, I am not going to take it lying down. I am going to obviously fight it because they ruined my Bollywood career and now if you don’t fight something that is wrong about you and you don’t fight it, it means that you are allowing that lie to be perpetuated.
Everybody knows the truth. I don’t have to prove anything to anybody. When in 2008 I went to file they didn’t even take an FIR and twisted the whole case. This time I didn’t have to do it, but they were threatening me with a legal notice of defamation. So, I have really had to fight with these people. Everybody knows. My point is that this is considered as norm but may be it’s time to change it. I want my case to be the landmark case of a beginning of a new future, where women can hope for justice. This is a way of cleaning up the society. One victory is all the society needs.
Note: We got in touch with DCP of Zone 9 (under which the Oshiwara police station falls), Paramjeet Singh Dahiya, for his response to Tanushree’s statements, he refused to comment, saying that the “matter is sub-judice.”
We also contacted Nana Patekar for his comments on Tanushree’s accusations but received no response from the actor.
Tanushree Dutta ended up kick-starting the #MeToo movement in India when she spoke out against alleged sexual harassment from Nana Patekar on the sets of the film Horn Ok Pleassss, which took place way back in 2008. In October 2018, the actor lodged an FIR at the Oshiwara Police Station. Soon after, many other women from within the film industry started coming forward with their stories of sexual harassment and rape.