Hyderabad: “I was 16 and in awe of Shamir’s words. His poetry was published in various places online so I was glad we began chatting. But things took an uncomfortable turn when he used sexually explicit language and brushed aside my discomfort. It was like a fall from grace,” says an 18-year-old student from Gachibowli.
Shamir Reuben, 25, one of the country’s slam poetry stars, who presently works for the performing arts forum, Kommune, has been accused of sexual harassment by girls, mainly minors, on social media platforms. They have alleged that he posts vulgar messages and asks them to send compromising pictures.
“The poetry community last night had an eye-opening revelation about a truth that was far more numbing and breaking than some others out there,” read a post shared widely on Facebook on Wednesday night, inviting evidence from victims who have been sexually harassed by Shamir.
Female victims commented on the post, stating that they were too young to realise the gravity of the situation when it happened and wish they had taken screenshots to support the cause. The issue led to many people from the city sharing posts regarding how Shamir treated them.
A 23-year-old resident of East Marredpally said, “I was close to Shamir and in light of this controversy, I scrolled through our old texts and saw a pattern that all the complainants were alleging.”
“Once during a party, we pecked each other on the cheek because of a game and he texted me then asking me if he could do it again. I was 16 then. When I was complaining about having put on weight, he told me that I haven’t and that he would hide in the bushes to watch me swim. He would keep asking me to visit him in Pune so that he could hug and kiss me.”
Anandita Harish (name changed), currently a student of UoH says, “Shamir and I worked together for a brief period and he was also my senior in college. I looked up to him as we used to play football together as well. Despite being a popular student, he watched out for everyone and even helped me when I wanted to apply to Pune for my PG. All these complaints have shocked me but it has been an eye opener that people are not what they seem.”
Shamir has also received flak for writing against the #MeToo campaign in 2017 while it was all just a farce for him. His post was liked and shared by more than 1,000 followers.
Shamir has put out a clarification stating: “I want to apologise profusely for any discomfort caused. Several things said and an incorrect portrayal of past events from 2013-2016 consisting of messages I sent to friends and when read out of context, they portray an incorrect picture.”
Shamir also stated that he respected the women who came out with this issue as violence against women should not be tolerated, however, he never intended to harm or harass anyone.
The clarification has been dissed by followers who claimed that the apology was shallow and no sympathy should be provided to one who did not understand the rules of sexual misconduct with minors.
Many also stated that Shamir could have kept face if he had accepted the allegations in light of the evidence against him or even maintained silence as the apology was just an excuse.
Police officials have said that a case can be booked under section 67 of the IP Act i.e sending obscene messages or 509 IPC i.e. insulting the modesty of a woman.