In the last few years, many victims of sexual harassment have shown their courage and shared their experiences through #MeToo movement. In the latest, another woman has opened up her mouth. Through her Instagram handle (fightforajustworld), she has accused Pratik Sinha of Alt News for alleged harassment.
“Hello reader! I am reaching out to you to narrate my personal experience about being a victim to a predator. I am not the kind who talks about my personal life on social media, but in this case, I had to make an exception. I have chosen to speak out after a great deal of agony & thought, as the experience has had a significant impact on me, in a deeply traumatic manner. I had to think a lot since this is about a man who has a huge public profile; I had to weigh the consequences of voicing my experience owing to that. But then I have realised it is in the larger public interest to speak out. And the person I am talking about is Pratik Sinha of Alt News,” she said.
The victim said, “In June 2020, he told me that he thought the feeling he had for me was more than that of friendship & he would want to pursue a relationship and that we should meet up once the pandemic restrictions are over. Since I had my own career/ academic plans, I mentioned that & said I could only think of being involved in a relationship after two years since it would take me that to complete my academic commitments and that in the meanwhile, if he wanted to move on, he could. To this, he categorically said he isn’t talking with, seeing, exploring anything or anyone else and hence would like to continue this”. The conversations continued like before and, almost on a daily basis, he would call/ message/converse with me. Almost every other day we would talk for hours together. During November 2020, he suddenly said that he doesn’t seem to be able to connect emotionally and hence doesn’t want to pursue this relationship anymore. Still, we kept talking/ messaging/conversing. During December 2020, he reversed his earlier remarks and said he thinks he still has feelings and would want to pursue this relationship. And that he would want to meet up as soon as possible once the pandemic is over or when both of us have our vaccinations completed.”
“In February 2021, due to his changing stances over the emotional connect, I stopped contacting him, but he continued to pursue me, calling and messaging me. And then, in May 2021, he again started telling me that he would like to continue this relationship and invest time on it. Once again, his calls and messages kept pace with his stated intentions. All this while, he had been maintaining that he was in pursuit of a ‘monogamous’ and ‘exclusive’ relationship with me and was not at all talking to, messaging, flirting with, seeing, or being physically/emotionally involved with anyone else in any manner. He even mentioned once that ever since March 2019; he was not physically involved with anyone, she said.
“Throughout our conversations on intimacy, there was just one thing that I had always maintained. Which is that “the last thing I would want to do is being involved with a man who is involved (either physically or emotionally) with anyone else”. I always asked if he was “involved with someone physically or emotionally”. His answer was always a categorical No. In July 2021, he again reiterated that he had genuine feelings towards me and would want to take the relationship to the next level and hence would like to meet up as soon as possible. Then he suggested we meet up before he moved to Kolkata (which was most likely to be September first week) since he would get busy after that. There was also the fact that I had to move out of the country for my academic pursuits,” she added.
The victim further said, “Pratik proposed that we meet up in the first week of September 2021 – so we met and spent time together for three days. We got physically intimate while together. I had made it very clear to him that I was not at all interested in a casual meeting or a fling; when I asked him point-blank if this meeting was casual, his response was that “he wouldn’t put in so much effort, changing two flights to meet up with someone, if it was casual”. Also, that “you do know me enough to know that it isn’t a casual meet” and he really wanted to invest time in this relationship and come and see me before I left for my higher education. The mark of his commitment to this relationship, he said, was that he was seriously thinking about marriage after two years, by which time I would have completed my education. When I asked if his mother thought this was a casual meet-up, again his response was that “she thinks there’s something serious happening between us “As I have previously stated, there was one clear bottom line for me in this relationship, and I articulated it clearly again and again. Which was,simply, commitment, seriousness, and loyalty. And in each instance, Pratik Made categorical assurances that his feelings were in line with those.serious, committed, and exclusive to me. I was satisfied with his assurances and believed in his words.”
She further added, “During the third week of September 2021, he suddenly sent a message saying that he had been misleading me for the past one-and-half years and that all the verbal assurances he had made about the relationship were mere drama and he hadn’t been truthful about any of those feelings with me. That he was lying about his feelings towards me and also about him being ‘monogamous’ and ‘exclusive’ to me.I was aghast & heartbroken, and despite my mental condition, I was struck by how blatantly and deviously the whole thing had been conducted. My first instinct, naturally, was to make a hue and cry about this. I told him I would go public with how he had led me on. He immediately sought the assistance of his friend to mediate, who in turn contacted me. She messaged & called me on the pretext of “trying to resolve the issue” but the real purpose was to dissuade me from going public, to coax me into silence, & thus protect him.”
“Yes, I had fallen for his trap. And at the end of it, I felt violated, abused, traumatised, threatened, betrayed, damaged and wronged. I feel my consent for the physical relationship was not informed consent because I was lied to. To think that this man had slept with a woman on August 15, 2021, just before meeting me during the first week of September 2021, and still claimed exclusive feelings for me even during that meeting, shatters me,” the victim said.
The woman also expressed fears of her allegations being dismissed by stating that after her post, she would be called an ‘RSS stooge, a BJP mole’ as she was targeting Alt News but had “been fighting against the right wing with my own means and ways”.
Notably, Pratik Sinha is the self-proclaimed fact-checker and co-founder of Alt News, along with Mohd Zubair.