Mumbai/ New Delhi: Amid a furore over actress Tanushree Dutta accusing co-actor Nana Patekar of sexual misconduct, Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi on Tuesday favoured a #MeTooIndia movement to encourage women to come forward to complain.
After Hollywood's #MeToo movement, which has seen several women there having spoken out about sexual harassment faced by them, many people are referring to Dutta's statement on Patekar as the beginning of a similar campaign in Bollywood.
Dutta has accused Patekar of behaving inappropriately with her on the sets of a film called 'Horn 'OK' Pleassss' in 2008.
When asked about accusations made by Dutta, the minister said harassment of any kind will not be tolerated.
"I feel we should also start something called 'Me Too India' in which any woman who has been harassed at any point should write to us and we should investigate. For the first time, the National Commission for Women is going into every case that is complained to us. We go in detail and literally, we have solved several thousand cases," Gandhi told TV channels.
Responding to the questions that people are asking Dutta why she took so long to reveal the matter, Gandhi said people asked the same question at the time when the first victim spoke against Hollywood's Harvey Weinstein, but it does not matter when the victim comes out.
"But I know when your body is abused, you remember it always. If there has been any kind of sexual harassment, it is possible to report it through SHe-box and we will take action," she added.
Meanwhile, the Cine and TV Artists Association (CINTAA) said Tuesday it did not "address" Tanushree Dutta's sexual harassment allegation against Nana Patekar in 2008, but it extends support to the actor now.
Dutta had filed a complaint with CINTAA a decade ago after she felt uncomfortable shooting a song with Patekar for the film ‘Horn Ok Pleassss.’
The actor has alleged the organisation did not pay heed to her complaint.
In a fresh statement, CINTAA said it "strongly condemns any act that outrages the modesty of any individual and any form of sexual harassment is unacceptable to us."
"After going through Ms Tanushree Dutta's complaint, which was filed with the then Executive Committee of CINTAA in March 2008, we feel that the decision taken in the Joint Dispute Settlement Committee of CINTAA & IFTPC (then known as AMPTPP) in July 2008 was not appropriate, as the chief grievance of sexual harassment wasn't even addressed."
The organisation said even though it was a different Executive Committee back then, CINTAA finds it "highly regrettable and no apologies can suffice, hence we must resolve today to never allow such lapses to occur again".
"CINTAA stands strongly for the dignity and self-respect of its members. Sexual harassment is a serious criminal offence, unfortunately CINTAA's Constitution bars us from taking up any case which is more than three years old.
"Hence we appeal to the authorities to take cognisance of Ms Dutta's statements and conduct an impartial and speedy enquiry so that truth and justice may prevail. We also appeal to all our members to report any such incidents to us immediately. We are duty bound to give them our complete moral and legal support to ensure just and safe working conditions," the statement further read.
Bollywood stars like Farhan Akhtar, Priyanka Chopra, Twinkle Khanna, Swara Bhasker and Richa Chadha have rallied around the actress.
However, Patekar has denied the claims. His lawyer reportedly sent a legal notice to Dutta, demanding a written apology from her for ruining his image....