#MeToo hits AIB, after Utsav, Gursimran Khamba accused of sexual misconduct, Tanmay Bhat steps away

#MeToo is gaining momentum for all the right reasons sparing no powerful men in the media industry. The latest to get hit by the wave is India’s most popular comedy collective AIB after accusations of sexual harassment surfaced against co-founder Gursimran Khamba this week.

The victim requesting anonymity accused Khamba of forcing himself on two separate occasions that followed with drunk calls, emotional blackmail and abuse that continued for five months. She further accused AIB’s co-founder Tanmay Bhat of knowing about the same but not acting on it. While Khamba denied violating consent, he did apologise to the victim for his behaviour. He said in a statement that,

“I am aware of the person who’s stated the incident in 2015 we had hooked up consensually multiple times. But I categorically deny the incident mentioned in October and December. I was not forceful.”
He further said, “It is true that I developed feelings for her while she was dating someone else. During that time given our friendship and history I felt rejected and was angry and did not behave appropriately at all. It had become a toxic relationship and I’d like to apologise unconditionally for it like I had done in the past. That behaviour was extremely uncalled for. She rightly stopped talking to me.”

On another account of sexual harassment allegation against Utsav Chakraborty (previously associated with AIB), Mahima Kukreja admitted Tanmay Bhat was confided of the truth but kept mum on the issue. Condemning the allegations, AIB has released a statement that CEO Tanmay Bhat has stepped away from the role while Khamba will take a temporary leave of absence until the matter is sorted. Vidhi Jotwani, head of human resources at AIB commented that

Tanmay’s role in both the cases cannot be overlooked and hence will be stepping away from the company. Truthfully, we do not know what this means for the future of AIB or whether there is one.

AIB’s multiple projects has been dropped out, the latest being Hotstar which has cancelled On Air With AIB season 3 following the inaction against the accused. The Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI) has also cancelled AIB’s project from its line-up.

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