#MeToo: JLF regulars Seth, Bhagat, Dua to miss event

#MeToo: JLF regulars Seth, Bhagat, Dua to miss event

JLF 2019

Suhel Seth,Chetan Bhagat and Vinod Dua.

The 2019 edition of Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) has been affected by the #MeToo movement as the names of its celebrity authors Suhel Seth, Chetan Bhagat and Vinod Dua, accused of sexually harassing multiple women, are missing from the speaker's list.

The five-day literature festival will begin from Thursday. 

Caught in the tide of #MeToo movement, several star speakers of the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival, including C P Surendran, Suhel Seth and Chetan Bhagat will not participate in this edition. Suhel Seth, whose consultancy Counselage India used to be one of the sponsors of JLF, was a regular speaker at the festival for a decade. However, three months ago, Seth was accused of sexual harassment by women including 27-year-old filmmaker Natashja Rathore, who posted a number of screenshots of a WhatsApp messages from Seth on social media. 

Similarly, noted author Chetan Bhagat whose recent book ‘The Girl in Room 105’ on Kashmir and trolls was released last year, happens to be a regular crowd-puller speaker at the JLF, but he will no more be participating in the 2019 edition.

In October 2018, Bhagat also landed in a major controversy as his name surfaced in the raging #MeToo debate with screenshots of a WhatsApp conversation he had with a woman surfacing on social media including famed author Ira Trivedi. 

On being asked if the doors of the JLF have been closed for these authors, Sanjoy Roy, producer of the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival, told DH,

"We, at JLF, unequivocally stand by the men and women who have courageously spoken out for equity and dignity and are committed to support and amplify their voices. We respect our audience and writers. But as far as these two authors are concerned, it's a mere coincidence that they were not figuring in our speakers' list for 2019". 

Interestingly, the 2018 edition of the festival had concluded with a hard-hitting debate on #MeToo, long before the campaign gained momentum in India. The session was moderated by noted Journalist Vinod Dua who himself was accused of sexual harassment later in the year during the #MeToo movement. 

Going by the past instances, another regular speaker at JLF, Tarun Tejpal the former editor-in-chief of Tehelka magazine, has not been invited by JLF organisers since 2013. Tejpal was accused of sexually assaulting a woman colleague inside a lift of a five-star hotel in Goa. 

The festival which is to be held from January 24 to January 28, will lay special emphasis on science, genetics, astronomy and astrophysics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and as well as the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

The much-awaited keynote address of the festival will be delivered by Nobel laureate Venki Ramakrishnan who will talk about the role of science in today’s world.

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