In a Facebook post, Arathi Renjith narrates how filmmaker and activist Rupesh Kumar misbehaved with her on a bus journey. Rupesh responds to the post.

Woman reporter accuses Kerala activist of misbehaviour writes about her ordealwww.azhimukham.com
news Sexual harassment Saturday, July 28, 2018 - 16:10

Arathi Renjith, journalist with Malayalam magazine Azhimukham, put up a long post on Facebook on Friday. She wrote in detail about a scary trip she had to take early this month with Rupesh Kumar, a filmmaker and writer.  

According to Arathi’s post, Rupesh, known for his strong opinions and Dalit activism, misbehaved with her. Though Rupesh later replied to the post and agreed to nearly everything she said in the post, he tried justifying his act.

The incident happened on July 7, when Arathi was going to Thoothukudi to do a story on life after the Sterlite protests, and Rupesh was accompanying her from Thampanoor, Thiruvananthapuram, on a bus.

Their conversation started off on the right foot as they discussed politics and life. However, somewhere along, Rupesh showed Arathi her profile picture on Facebook and said that he decided to tag along after seeing the photo.  

Arathi felt uneasy. She thought to herself that this was the same man who spoke about the absence of Dalit women in media organisations in Kerala and inequality of women at the time of a debate on the politics of Kaala.

“As time passed, I realised he is an irritating worm that found joy in the likes and comments he got for his Facebook statuses,” she wrote.  

As night fell, a drunk Rupesh wanted to kiss her and hug her. She held him off, saying she would kill him if he touched her.

“And then, he uses another trick on me, claiming that he has never received the love of a parent and was separated from his wife. He wants love, he says. When I yell at him to lie away from me, he starts crying. I wanted to beat him to death!” Arathi wrote.

Though Rupesh slept soon enough, Arathi could not sleep a wink. When she questioned him the next day, he asked her, ‘Then why did you come on a journey with me for such a long distance?’  

“I came to do my job and thought I came with a media person, 'not a man',”  she wrote. He apologised, saying he was drunk.

Rupesh's explanation

Rupesh made another Facebook post, replying to Arathi's post, with what he calls an explanation, although, it starts off as a series of admissions. 

He admits that they travelled together, that he liked her photo, that he was drunk and that he pulled away when she asked him to lie away from her. He also made it clear the next day that he had no intention of attacking her.

He also wrote that she travelled with him back to Thiruvananthapuram after her assignment.   

Also, in his post, he claimed that the two spoke to each other like friends after the incident, and that Arathi even sent him her stories.

Although Rupesh did not contest Arathi's version, he claimed that his intention was not to assault her. 

“It is after all this she wrote such a post. I spoke to her about my life because I felt close to her. I have nothing to say if she claims that my crying was an attempt to violate her," he said.  

He reveals that he has chatted with a lot of women, flirted with some, loved some and has had sex with some. “But this cannot be allowed to be called as a violation. Yes, I have misbehaved with some and I have realised that.” 

Reacting to her accusation that he has used his privileges as a Dalit activist and social media to violate women, he says, ‘If any woman has felt that I have tried to violate her, I apologise to her. If they still want to proceed against me, they may do so. But I have decided to move on. Besides, with this post, my poverty is only likely to increase,” he wrote.

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