Monday, 30 May 2016

AGENDA FOR TODAY'S MEETING: 'WHAT SHALL WE DO WITH KUNJILA'

I didn't know i was so important. So threatening. Really, i am a short woman, not well built. I can't knock anyone off even if i wanted to. I have no money. My parent is not rich. Nor is she famous. I am in no power position. I am a student and i am struggling to make a film.
So on 30th May 2016, when the chairperson Mr Partha Ghose, called for a meeting of all faculty, little did i know that the agenda for it would be 'what shall we do to kunjila'. Well, that was what it was. So the chairperson who had a few days ago bestowed the wisdom that 'taali ek haath se nahi bajta' (you can't clap with just one hand, when i complained about the harassment the student community was subjecting me to) called a meeting of all faculty members and asked what was to be done with me. I was maligning the name of the institute and was swearing at professors on social media. Surely, i had to be punished? Also, the unsaid backstory,

1. I complained against sexual harassment on campus.
2. I said that a professor had raped me
3. I said that another professor had sexually harassed me
4. I said that the institute was a hub of drunkards and weed doers who chose to make life of other students miserable after they indulged in these,
5. I said that one of the professors was guilty of instigating students into committing sexual harassment
6. I said that one of the professors engaged in absolute hate speech in company of students. I made public a video which proved the same
7. I exposed the misogynist the chairperson Partha Ghose is.
8. I wrote to the Ministry of I&B saying the same.
9.

Oh wait. What was that again?
Yes. I wrote a letter to the Ministry of I&B explaining the harassment Mr Partha Ghose subjected me to. I made that letter public. When an activist made a petition seeking the resignation of Mr Partha Ghose for the same reason, i shared the petition and asked fellow fighters to sign it. And the next thing i know the man calls for a meeting of faculty members and discusses what shall be done with me? Yes.

So why is it that a room full of people who are more than double my age decided to write a letter against me? Because i am what is wrong with SRFTI? You must be joking.

I have written to the ministry again this way.

Dear authority,
I have repeatedly written to you talking about the tremendous amount of harassment i am being subjected to in SRFTI. I have received no reply. Yesterday, i got to know from a professor who had attended the meeting themselves that the chairperson of the institute, Mr. Partha Ghose had called a meeting of all faculty members. The agenda of the meeting was 'what shall be done to kunjila'. Is this permissible? In the meeting it was decided that all the faculty members shall file a complaint against me because i have been maligning the reputation of the institute. It was no surprise because Mr. Partha Ghose himself had earlier told me that 'we shall not wash SRFTI's dirty linen in public'. This is a deliberate attempt to stall the shoot of my diploma project which is scheduled to begin on 9th June. Other than exposing the chairperson of his attitude towards women and sexual harassment, other than bringing out the truth about certain professors here, what is it that i have done to deserve this? Are the above mentioned things crimes? I know they are not.
Please intervene immediately and stop this lobbying of the chairperson and faculty members against me. I have only stood by the truth and will continue to do so till the end of my life. If SRFTI decides to kill me, then i will continue doing that till the murder.
Thanks,
kunjila.
I don't know if i will get justice. Nor do i know if we will win this fight. I am summarising telling you what a day of a sexual harassment complainant is like. This is an average day. Sometimes it is worse. Sometimes it is even worse. This is not to say that it is hard. It is hard. But this, is to say that it is possible. I am alive up until now so anybody can do it. Unlike what Mr. Partha Ghose and the faculty here think of me, i am not a superhuman. It seems very difficult when you go through it but later you can just write it down like this and tell other women the same. That it is possible.

On 30th May 2016, i went to sleep at around 6 a.m. I had to leave for recce in the morning so i had to wake up at around 9 a.m. I did. I took my actor who had come all the way from Kerala for my project t for breakfast outside because mess serves bread on Mondays. Poori outside was better and cheaper. After that i set out to the department and printed the latest version of shot division. I wrote a letter to the director asking for the copy of the report submitted by ICC for sexual harassment. I got all the complainants to sign on it. I wrote another letter to the registrar because the guest house people told me that my actor couldn't stay there. I went to the registrar and he asked me to get a copy of it made and i spent ten minutes making his PA understand what a copy is. [From the time the receptionist at the guest house told me that my actor couldn't stay there my eyes had started welling up and never stopped till noon. It happens with me when i am depressed.] I went down to the reception and said that Vai Vow, my witness in one of the student cases in ICC, would not be able to come because he is in Maharashtra and that he would have to give his testimony on phone. The receptionist who is also a member of the student ICC told me that the ICC hearing was going on. Then i realized that it was 30th May. I called Vai Vow up and informed him of the situation. Babysitted him on what to do. Most adults around me including my own mother need babysitting when it comes to getting things done, writing letters etc. Yes, it is fucking irritating. I went back to the internet room and made some changes in my diploma schedule. I went to the sound department to issue equipment and was told that they would not issue it in my name. They needed a senior sound student. No senior sound student remains on campus who even talks to me. Ostracised me, remember. I was asked to go to my own department and get a sign from a faculty. I went to one staff and two faculty members. All of them refused for one reason or the other. I went to the HoD of the department and broke down in front of him saying what kind of harassment i had to face every day when my shoot was just around the corner. He said he would make an 'exception' for me. He said he would decide which equipment to be given. I did not get the equipment i asked for but had to be 'happy' that i had got it issued because, well, that's the way things are around sexual harassment complainants, especially me. After that me and most of my crew set out on recce. We went to Port Trust. We waited a long time there. We went to Deodar Street. We went to Jadavpur 8B, a lab there and a tailor shop there, both my locations. We went to Medica hospital. I had tea. I returned. I got the news of the meeting. I cancelled the rehearsals i was going to have with my actor because i was too disturbed. I spent some time talking to Vai Vow and realized i was awfully jealous of him because he did not have to face any of this before his shoot. I spoke to sister, mother visited, babysitted her again. Fought with sister, spoke to her, argued, gave up and facebooked. On facebook i was slut shamed again. Point number three which the senior student mentioned sounded like it came out of some mallu film. Only it was from a bengali film (student). Wrote letter to the ministry. Will go have tea in some time and have a goja because i am goddamn hungry. Then will be back, work on shot division, read Bresson, twist and turn in bed till dawn and fall asleep when i come up with some grand plan in my head which will save me from this torture. Tomorrow is a new day and it will bring me sunshine and laughter. Only, it won't.


Thursday, 26 May 2016

HARASSMENT BY CHAIRPERSON PARTHA GHOSE: OPEN LETTER TO I&B: SEXUAL HARASSMENT BATTLE AND THE MOB


To,
The Ministry of I&B, India,
ICC,
The Director,
SRFTI

Dear authority,
I am writing this letter to report the harassment that i had to face from the chairperson of the institute, SRFTI, Mr. Partha Ghosh. I am a sexual harassment complainant and had gone to report the numerous instances of intimidation and harassment that i was facing from the student body. After the ICC had found two professors guilty of sexual harassment, the violence from the students to me, other complainants and our supporters had shot up.
Yesterday, 24th May, 2016, i had gone to the director of the institute to report the most recent incident in which i was called ‘behen ke laudi’ and was threatened that ‘this happened outside the institute. You can’t do anything about it’. The director was in the chairperson’s room, talking to him. When i entered with junior student Kalhan Raina who is also facing intimidation and death threats, Mr Ghosh asked me what was in my hand. I said that it was my phone. He asked me to put it away. I asked him why. He said he couldn’t record what he was saying. I again asked why. He said that he wouldn’t talk to us if we were to quote him later. So i had to put my phone away.
When i started telling him and the director what i was being subjected to in the past couple of weeks, he started mocking me. He said that ‘taali ek haath se nahi bajta hai’, [you cannot clap with just one hand]. When i asked him what he meant by that he said that ‘till i saw the video of the professor i used to believe that it was a one-sided attack. But after seeing the video i now believe that it (violence against us) is response to your provocation’. He was referring to the video that i had uploaded of Mr. Subhadra Chowdhury, professor, who was found guilty of sexual harassment in which he was saying very objectionable things. 



I asked the chairperson why he was not talking about the content of the video. I told him how that video was made for public viewing and how the person who had shot it had told the professor that he was shooting it. In fact the professor himself had given inputs on edit to the student. The chairperson did not listen to me.

Later when i pointed out that i was being threatened every day he started mocking me. What can we do? He asked me. I said i shouldn’t feel threatened in the campus. He mocked me again saying, ‘So what shall I do? I can post a security guard by your side who goes wherever you go’. At this point i couldn’t bear the humiliation any longer and i got up and said that it was absolutely mean and pathetic that he was talking to me that way. I said that if a student was feeling threatened the solution was not to employ guards but to remove the elements which are threatening the student. I said this and left the room.

I went back again once more still in tears to let him know that i have received yet another threat from a female student who is asking alumni to join hands in kicking insane elements like me out of the institute.

I am writing this to bring to your notice how a girl who spoke up against sexual harassment is constantly being harassed by students, faculty and the highest of authorities. My friends who stayed back in the room after i left crying told me that Mr Partha Ghosh had asked them to ‘please control kunjila’. Why is it that it is i who have to be controlled when the students and professors who unleashed terrible amount of violence on me are parading the institute without any sort of control over them. Why did Mr. Partha Ghosh ask me not to record if not to say such humiliating things to me and leave me with no evidence. Mr Kalhan Raina was present throughout the incident and he can testify to what i have said. The director of the institute was also present while i was being harassed even though i am not sure he will testify for me.
Please take action against this complaint.

Thanks,

kunjila
Kolkata,
25th May 2015

I have sent this letter to the Ministry of I and B and i am seeking justice. Meanwhile students here have ganged up more than ever, unleashing a vicious attack on us complainants. I am attaching the screenshots of some of the posts put up on social media directly attacking us complainants and calling us liars, mentally ill, pseudo feminists etc. The amount of violence in their posts itself is such and you can imagine how it must be when we take a walk on campus. It is horrible. 


One of the students seeks the help of seniors to kick insane people like us out of the campus. The same person also goes ahead and calls me/complainants pseudo feminists. Says that we think that 'men on earth have  only one aspiration in life-to rape women'.


In the following update you can see that a student is stating as a fact which is only her opinion which is 'Not all cases are true. not all women are victims. Some are plain politicians...There has been NO death threats. I repeat NO DEATH THREATS. NO abuse. DO NOT FALL FOR THESE. SOMEONE IS TRYING TO GET YOUR SYMPATHY. THEY ARE TRYING TO PULL YOU IN YOUR SENTIMENTS FOR A WOMEN. YOU ARE BEING USED. YOUR RESPECT FOR WOMEN IS BEING POLITICISED.

 
Now let  me expose the lies mentioned by this student in a couple of seconds. 
1. There was a death threat. A student had told his junior student (Kalhan) that he would be found in a pool of blood outside some day soon. Soon after that comment which was posted on one of my own posts on facebook, he deleted it and even made fun of the student by saying that the comment was now gone. Later he went on to say that it was only a joke. He himself put up a status saying his death threat was only a 'mole' (i am assuming molehill is what he meant) and that the person who got the threat was making a mountain out of it. Here is that post in which he is even mocking the student he threatened saying he is an 'asset' to SRFTI. 

Again another student who keeps referring to me as a mental patient wrote to provide strength to the death threat student saying he was 'dealing with a bunch of insane psychopaths' and not to worry because 'there will be more dramas coming up, all you know that there's a complaint against you. Because you know complaints are the most powerful weapon for all the pseudo feminists across the world'.


2. Dispelling lie number two by the student which is that there has been NO abuse and that everything is cooked up by attention hungry students like me, i would ask the indian public plus SRFTI to go through the ICC report which has pronounced TWO professors GUILTY and have recommended the harshest of punishments. This is a quote directly from the office of the director of the institute and was reported in an article in a newspaper. There are four female students who made complaints against faculty and there are 2 complaints against one, 3 against the other and 1 against the third. I am really curious to know why the mob thinks that all these women one fine day decided to tell a bunch of lies and subject themselves to insane amounts of humiliation which is what is thrown at sexual harassment complainants in india, usually. 





In the above status the same student spurts another series of lies. Dispelling them one by one and pointing out the stupidity of the argument?.

1. 'Under psychiatric treatment' is probably a shot at me, the only person on campus who has written about her sessions with the shrink. Yes, i take anti-depressants and mood stablisers and i attended sessions with a shrink for a year to get out of depression. I don't see how that makes me have a 'dented mind'. The absolute insensitivity towards mental health issues and depression is the hallmark of SRFTI. The status just proves it further.
2. The victims who prefer to be called survivors are happily roaming about.
At least in my case i can say that i have no problem with being called either a victim or a survivor. Yes, we are happily? (not too sure) roaming about. So what are we supposed to do? Shut ourselves in our rooms and not talk? Not happening people. I don't know which century you belong to, but i will fight sexual harassment tooth and nail, sitting in room, laughing when i feel like, crying when i feel like, sleeping, eating, not eating...doing things which normal people do because that is what we are  too. People. 

3. They do their regular work with other students.
There are no other students. It's us 6 and them 150. I am working with people, even girls, who don't even believe that i was raped and it is not easy. Regular work? No. The students have tried all they can to stop me from working by creating the most hostile environment and i still don't know how i will start my shoot in less than two weeks in such an environment. Every day is a battle. Every night is sleepless.
We stick to ourselves and are always with each other because there is no one left to talk to and there are only so many people who believe us. In the mess or the canteen if you see someone eating alone in all probability it is one of us.  When we are not alone we are with one of us six.
Laugh loudly- again at me, i think, i have an extra loud laughter which is quite annoying. And yes, i will continue laughing because (again) yes, that's one of the things people do and i am people.
Badminton tournament: Happened ages ago and even on that occasion an announcement was made over the microphone that there would be a party, later corrected to 'bhajan keertan', mockingly. That was the morning in which i was called 'behen ke laudi' by one of the students and they hit an iron rod on a pole in the badminton court right in front of my room at 6 in the morning. So, isn't it better one doesn't mention 'play badminton and no one bats an eyelid'. 
By the way, why should anyone bat an eyelid? Why does it sound as if it is a miracle that nobody batted an eyelid. Freudian slips, i say. :)
4. Kalhan shooting a student only general body video. 
Blatant lie. Kalhan never shot anything. He made an audio recording upon the request of some of the complainants because such 'student only' meetings were being used to spread lies. And yes, he caught a student representative lying. We checked with a lot of sources and still haven't understood what is wrong with recording a meeting which was supposed to be transparent. My request asking for the minutes of the meeting yielded no reply. 

5. The student who was subjected to public trial walked in there by his own will.
Yes, of course he did. Such general body meetings are not expected to be violent. They are not supposed to be. The girl again makes a slip by suggesting that we be grateful that they are not from ancient india. It is nothing to be grateful or happy about. It is how things should be and it is how things were not in that meeting which was undemocratic to begin with. It is just as stupid as saying that we are nice people because we don't practise Sati anymore. 

Kalhan was subjected to harassment from 11.30 at night to 3.30 in the morning. A mob of around forty people surrounded him and kept asking him questions till the time a fellow complainant and i entered the terrace and questioned the mob. The mob turned violent against us and attacked the three of us in packs. That is, around forty students against the three or four of us. I have the audio recording of the mob in which one student can be heard yelling 'I am not scared of you Kunjila, I am not Shyamal Sengupta'. Mr. Sengupta, is a professor against three female students including me had complained. You can hear how people mocked us girls mimicking our voices, laughter etc, how we were booed and laughed at. There was even applause when the above mentioned dialogue was said. 

By the way the female student spreading these lies has blocked me on Facebook. This is just a hint of how democratic SRFTI is and what its people's understanding of democracy is. 
 
I have not finished editing the 1.30 hour long audio recording because i have a film to shoot soon. Shall upload it and update here when i do that.
While we are being called names and being accused of being mentally ill i would also like my readers to go through the series i had published in my blog about my sessions with a shrink. I did that because i knew that a lot of women were going through similar problems and that it would help them. My own mother said that it was not wise for me to write about such things precisely because of the reason which has just unfolded in front of my eyes. That people will use it to paint me as an insane female. Insane is a monolithic idea for most people which immediately paints a picture of a woman chained to a cot or something such. Nobody understands depression. In fact in the controversial video of the professor there is a portion in which he says that there is nothing called 'depression' and that my suicide attempt was only because i had a mother who had money and who could stay in Kolkata to look after me. 
The truth is that a lot of people, especially women, wrote to me after i published that series and even got the number of my psychologist from me. One of them was the girl who called us 'psychopaths'. I hope she recovers from this time capsule she has shut herself in, denying the truth and believing the fake and the false. Women, i hope you find peace. 

Much love,
kunjila.

She Leaves Me. Again

For years I have struggled to explain to her how she hurts me. How I get hurt even when she has no clue that I am getting hurt. She ...