Artist Jatin Das Accused of Sexual Harassment by Former Assistant

The alleged incident took place at his studio in Delhi. 

Art and Culture
3 min read
Jatin Das at an exhibition of his work.

As India’s #MeToo movement continues, new allegations have come to light, this time against well-known artist Jatin Das, father of Manto director Nandita Das. His accuser Nisha Bora, co-founder of eco-friendly stationery brand Elrhino, took to Twitter to share her story.

Bora had met Das through family at an event in Delhi in 2004. The then 28-year-old was informally hired by the Padma Bhushan winner to assist him in organising his work. Delighted at the opportunity to work with “a brilliant artist”, she agreed.

While the first day passed without incident, Bora goes on to describe how, on the second day, Das tried to kiss her.

He poured himself some whiskey; offered me one too, but I refused. The next thing I knew, he attempted to grab me. I wriggled out of his embrace, flustered. Then he did it again. This time, he managed a clumsy kiss on my lips. I recall the feeling of his beard on my skin. I pushed him away, and moved away from him. At that moment, he said, Come on, it would be nice. Or something like that. What I recall clearly was his disbelief that I was pushing back. 
Nisha Bora, Co-Founder, Elrhino

Following the incident, Bora received a call from Das’ daughter, actor and director Nandita Das, who wanted help in finding a young female assistant such as herself. She wrote, “At that time, I recall that phone call felt like a knife being twisted in my gut, because I had so, so much admiration for her, and it had all become so incredibly filthy that moment.”

Bora also addressed why she did not speak out at the time.

I worked myself into a hole believing that talking about it would make trouble for them, that I had somehow landed myself in this spot, and that it was my problem to ‘deal with’. I felt guilty and ashamed. I internalised, normalised and embraced it.

She went on to explain that she was choosing to tell her story, having been inspired by all those who have spoken out against their harassers in the #MeToo campaign that’s currently sweeping social media in India. She also wrote that she hoped it would inspire others who might have faced similar behaviour from Das to speak up against him.

Of the trauma that she has faced in the wake of the experience, Bora writes, “The damage is not just in that instant, because in that instant, your self defense instincts peak. The trauma that follows later—in deciphering what the incident meant and what your response should be, figuring out strategies to carry that memory, ways to wire it into your identity, learning to make or not make it a part of who you see in the mirror each day—that is where the trauma is. The impact is lifelong,"

It has been alleged that Das’ propensity for misconduct was well-known amongst his peers.

Das has denied the allegations and, in an interview with IANS, has called them "ridiculous and vulgar". "This is horrifying. What else can I say? It's cheap," he said.

Denying that he even knows Bora, he added, "If you meet, you meet hundreds of people and somebody makes an allegation like this, it's very cheap. One may not recollect the name or face, but one doesn't stoop down to this level."

Updates start

Hope Truth Will Prevail: Nandita Das

Das’ daughter Nandita reacted to the allegations on late Tuesday night and echoed her support to the moevment through a Facebook post. “I will continue to add my voice to it, despite the disturbing allegations made against my father, which he has categorically denied,” Das wrote in her post.

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