“Gautam Adhikari Forcibly Kissed Me At 22,” Reveals Tara Kaushal
Tara Kaushal, writer and author of Why Indian Men Rape, has written a brutally honest post about her #MeToo moment with Gautam Adhikari, then Editor-in-Chief of DNA in 2006.
Kaushal, in a lengthy post, recollected the experience of sexual harassment at the hands of the newspaper biggie when she was just starting her career at 22. “I met Gautam Adhikari and his wife at a Christmas party at my parents’ friends’ home in 2005. As a 22-year-old writer, I was ecstatic to meet the Editor-in-Chief of DNA, and set out to impress him in our conversation before telling him (of course) that I’d like to write for his paper. Sufficiently impressed with my language and politics (I thought), he was very encouraging and asked me to meet him in his office sometime in January,” Kaushal shared.
She added, “When I arrived for my interview/meeting, I waited outside his cabin, by the table of his administrative assistant. He came outside to fetch me; after hellos and handshakes, I followed him in. As he closed the door behind me, he pushed me against the door and kissed me. On the lips. Tongue et al. His lips were as soft and plump and gross as the rest of his body that he ground against mine…”
Now, a reporter with a top US newspaper has reported that Gautam Adhikari said he resigned from his job as senior fellow at the Center for American Progress in Washington DC on Saturday after the #MeToo truths were revealed. The Center has removed Adhikari’s web page as well.
He pushed me against the door and kissed me. On the lips. Tongue et al – Tara Kaushal
The moment was surprising and maddening at the same time. After she pushed him off, an angry Kaushal asked, “What are you doing?!”
“Even if I wasn’t in a monogamous relationship at that point (which I was), I wasn’t interested in this uncleji. This had come completely out of left field. I didn’t sign up for this!” continued the writer who works on gender, sexuality and equal rights.
“Oh, I couldn’t resist, you’re so beautiful,” Adhikari said. “I have a happy marriage, but every once in a while someone comes along and just makes me wild with desire…”
After the embarrassing moment, “he proceeded to take his chair; confused, I followed him and took the one opposite him. We spoke as though nothing had happened—well, he did, reverting to the encouraging mentor persona he had adopted at the party,” she said, adding that “he did put me in touch with the editors of the beats relevant to my writing”.
“After the interview, I cried in the arms of my ex-boyfriend (now deceased), and told my bestie from childhood and media senior Abhimanyu Radhakrishan, among others. Then I got over it,” Kaushal said.
According to her, she never saw Adhikari again. “I did keep in superficial touch via SMS until he left DNA… why wouldn’t I? I had paid my ‘dues’ with that assault, I thought I may as well reap the benefits of being in contact with the Most Important Person at the newspaper,” she said.
Finding out about the other recent similar allegations against Adhikari, Kaushal said, “The accounts of Sandhya Menon and Sonora Jha who have accused Adhikari of sexual misconduct have such a familiar ring—the pushing on the bed, the forcing of kisses, the gross abuse of power. In his non-apology response, he denies the incidents entirely. I wonder whether he will deny mine too.”
In the absence and distrust of a due process, survivors of sexual assault have taken to naming and shaming their abusers in big and small ways – Tara Kaushal
SheThePeople.TV reached out to Kaushal after Adhikari’s resignation news broke. She said, “The fact that I’m very happy this has happened. They can be no legal retribution; in its absence, social and economic retribution will have to do.”
In her blog, she continued, “In the absence and distrust of a due process, survivors of sexual assault have taken to naming and shaming their abusers in big and small ways. But the question has been: what next?”
Mentioning the breakthrough storm that is #MeToo and how it is a long overdue, she raised some serious questions. “In capitalistic society, here’s where organisations can play a major role—and, it appears that they have been quite responsive to the #MeToo moment in the Indian media. AIB has removed Tanmay Bhat and Gursimran Khamba; Prashant Jha has stepped down as HT’s Chief of Bureau; there are more heads left to roll, more pay packets to sever. But what will ever happen to Gautam Adhikari, who has long since retired from the media and lives in the distant US? Apart from some familial and social drama, will he face any tangible consequences? I sincerely hope so.”
Feature Image Credit: Tara Kaushal