The writer revealed an incident nearly a decade ago at the Jaipur Literature Festival where Chetan Bhagat made her feel deeply uncomfortable.
“During the panel, he asked me something to the effect what do you do when men hit on you at book launches? I replied something along the lines of I tell him that if he buys a 100 books I will kiss him, and if he buys all my books I will marry him. I was 22 and I thought that I had just been very clever and sassy. I had not, however, given anyone permission or consent,” she wrote.
She added, “A few weeks later, he invited me to tea at the India International Centre. He asked me to come to his room but I suggested we meet in the tea-room instead. After our tea, he asked me to come up to his room on the pretext of giving me a signed copy of his book. As soon as I entered his room, he tried to plant a kiss on my lips. I asked him what in the world he was trying to do and he told me coyly, without hesitation that he had bought a hundred copies of my books and donated them to a library in Pune, so a kiss was his prerogative. This was uncalled for and shocking behaviour.”
“Harmless as it was, the truth was that it did make me uncomfortable. After all he was and is a married man with a family, and this in my mind, was inappropriate behaviour.”
She disclosed that Chetan even tried to grope one of her friends and made several inappropriate passes verbally and physically. She said, “A few years later things took a turn for the worse. Chetan met up with a friend of mine when they were both abroad. On a moving bus he groped her and then made several inappropriate passes physically and verbally. I was furious when I heard of this and I immediately confronted Chetan.”
In the account, Ira also explained why she felt compelled to speak up after she saw so many stories coming up in the news. She said, “When I heard the accounts from those who came out privately, it seemed to me that the same story the same behaviour and the familiar sense of entitlement, Chetan Bhagat comes across a young woman, up-and-coming in her profession. The woman is friendly with him because he is, after all, Chetan Bhagat. Much like one of his novels, Chetan sets the scene through phone-flirting and then when – and if – he meets her in person alone, he makes his move, whether she likes it or not, whether it is appropriate or not, whether it hurts her, his family or not.”
After the allegation were made, Chetan Bhagat responded with a series of tweets claiming that these allegations were false. He even shared a screenshot of Ira’s mail from 2013 which according to him shows that her accusations from 2010 were false.