The scandal broke out on March 12, 2017 when an ex-employee in an anonymous blog post accused online digital entertainment channel The Viral Fever (TVF) CEO Arunabh Kumar of sexual harassment at the workplace
Titled 'The Indian Uber - That is TVF', the tell-all account written under the pseudonym of Indian Fowler seems to have drawn inspiration from ex-Uber employee Susan Fowler's post on sexual harassment at the San Francisco-based company. The 24-year-old begins by saying Arunabh Kumar molested her for the first time when she joined the company in 2014; after that, it became a routine affair. "Arunabh would try to lift me or would try and fall on me pretending he is drunk (sic)", she alleges. When she threatened to go to the cops, Arunabh's apparent retort was "Police to meri pocket mein hai". While she quit in 2016, TVF's legal team allegedly continues to send her reminders about breach of contract, leading to worry that she is still being tracked.
As her post went viral, shared and retweeted by netizens, at least three more ex-employees shared similar experiences. A former employee opened up to mid-day on the condition of anonymity: "When I got my first project as an assistant, TVF seemed like the coolest workplace. But the dream run ended soon. I was compelled to go to office on a Sunday for an 'emergency' meeting. Only Arunabh was there. I must admit I have never liked the man. There was something about him that made my skin crawl. Maybe it was overt PDA, the touching, and hugging. Initially, I saw it as a work quirk and gave them the benefit of doubt. But that day, during an intense chat about work, he tried to feel me up; first, my back and then, the front. I punched him and ran. Office records conveniently didn't have CCTV footage. I could have brought it up then, but in a man's world, does a woman's word count? I will not raise a complaint as I don't feel safe sharing the information. But I hope for the worst for him."
TVF spokesperson issued a statement that read, "All allegations made against TVF and its team in the article are categorically false, baseless and unverified. We take pride in making TVF a safe workplace that is equally comfortable for women and men. We will leave no stone unturned to find the author of the article and bring them to severe justice for making such false allegations. It is our humble request that you do not share an unsubstantiated, unverified and anonymous article such as this." TVF's response to the accusations sparked outrage on social media as netizens expressed displeasure with the official statement that threatened to 'find the author of the article and bring them to severe justice' instead of initiating a probe. Pic/TVF's Twitter account
In an interview to a tabloid, Arunabh Kumar said he is ready to address the allegations against him. He said he is open to receiving a police complaint so that he could respond legally. Pic/Arunabh Kumar's Twitter account
Several TVF employees including Biswapati Sarkar and Nidhi Bisht rubbished the claims made against Arunabh Kumar. Writer-actor Nidhi Bisht, a TVF insider who has known Arunabh for the last eight years, calls him a 'father figure' and 'mentor'. "I don't think he can do something like this with any female employee. The allegation is fictitious." Pic/Biswapati Sarkar and Nidhi Bisht's Instagram accounts
Actor Naveen Kasturia, who is named in the blog post by Indian Fowler, denied claims that he laughed off the woman's complaints against Arunabh Kumar. He tweeted, "I categorically say that i know no such woman and i haven't made any remark like that. (sic)" Pic/Naveen Kasturia's Instagram account
The Twitter handle, through which the first post by the ex-employee went viral, has now received over 50 direct messages from women opening up about unsavoury encounters with Arunabh. The person handling the account has said the information will be shared publicly only after it is verified
When mid-day reached out to TVF to find out if the company had initiated an internal inquiry into the matter, spokesperson Aditi Singh responded in the affirmative. "Our committee which comprises internal and external people (sic) is looking into the matter. Once we have an update with regard to the verdict, we will communicate it to everyone."
Mumbai Police took to Twitter, requesting the woman to register a complaint. "Investigations and action can be initiated once an FIR is registered. We encourage the victim to come forward," the tweet read. The police told mid-day that none of them has approached them yet and they are trying to locate the complainants in the case. the Mumbai Police yet. Has TVF got in touch with the cyber crime cell yet? The spokesperson says, "As of now, I am not aware of the company approaching the cyber crime cell. We are trying to figure out if the claims made are true. If there is any substance to it, we will take necessary action. If there isn't, then also proper action will be taken." Pic/Mumbai Police Twitter account
Advocate Rizwan Siddique filed a complaint against Arunabh Kumar after a woman accused Kumar of sexual harassment. Siddiqui said he has filed a third-party FIR against Kumar
In an ironic twist, TVF postponed the premiere of its new web series, 'Bisht, Please'. Its protagonist is a lech of a boss. With TVF founder Arunabh Kumar battling a snowfall of allegations of sexual harassment, the timing couldn't have been more embarrassing. TVF decided to go ahead with the release of the show on April 1
TVF founder Arunabh Kumar has been booked in sexual harassment case after a victim came forward in Mumbai and filed complaint. A day later, another woman drew strength from the collective voice of alleged victims and filed an FIR against him. The second FIR, lodged at Versova station, alleged that Arunabh Kumar sexually harassed the woman at the TVF office in 2014
A month after alleging The Viral Fever founder Arunabh Kumar had sexually harassed her during her term of employment with the company in a blog post, the victim, who goes by the pseudonym of Indian Fowler, claimed she had finally registered an FIR against Kumar.
TVF CEO Arunabh Kumar was given anticipatory bail on April 17 in connection with a molestation case. Kumar was earlier given interim protection from arrest. The Dindoshi sessions court granted him anticipatory bail on conditions including that he must not pressurise any witnesses in the matter and also not tamper with the evidence
Arunabh Kumar has stepped down as CEO of web entertainment firm The Viral Fever barely months after Mumbai police booked him for allegedly causing sexual harassment to unidentified women. TVF, announced the appointment of Dhawal Gusain as the company's new CEO