TVF founder rubbishes harassment charges, says social media has already declared him an offender

The Viral Fever (TVF) founder Arunabh Kumar is under fire after multiple posts surfaced against him accusing him of sexually harassing his colleagues. The first such article was published on Medium.com in which a person calling herself a former employee of the TVF accused Arunabh of molesting her.

In an interview to Mumbai Mirror, Arunabh called allegations against him as "fake". Arunabh said he would request the woman making these allegations against him to either report the matter to the police or to the HR team at TVF where she allegedly worked.

Describing the entire Medium post as slanderous, Kumar told Mirror: "I unconditionally and unequivocally deny all these allegations. Social media has already declared me an offender, but I am ready to address all the allegations against me. I am open to receiving a police complaint so that I can respond legally as well.TVF is bigger than me and if there is a remote chance that I have done any wrong, let me be persecuted." 

According to Kumar, his company has not hired any woman from Muzaffarpur in the last three years and added that they have complained to Medium about the defamatory post and have asked for it to be removed.

The woman, under the name Indian Fowler, accused Kumar of multiple sexual advances, and said she was asked to walk out when she complained to her bosses at TVF. She added that complaints made to co-workers got cold answers and, in one instance, someone laughed off the matter. In a Facebook post, independent contractor Reema Sengupta said she, too, was a victim of Kumar’s inappropriate overtures during a shoot. In a comment on the Medium post, “ex-TVF employee” Aayushi Agarwal said she too had a similar experience.

The post titled 'The Indian Uber - That is TVF' looks to be modelled on ex-Uber employee Susan Fowler's post alleging sexual harassment at the US-based company. Fowler's claims are now being investigated by board member Arianna Huffington and an independent legal team.

Meanwhile, TVF members have come out strongly in support of Arunabh. TVF has issued a statement rubbishing the allegations made in the Medium.com article. They called it “ludicrous and defamatory” and “categorically false, baseless and unverified”, a report in The Quint said.

“All the allegations made against TVF and its team in the article are categorically false, baseless and unverified. We take a lot of pride in our team and in making TVF a safe workplace that is equally comfortable for women and men,” The Quint reported.

Nidhi Bisht, a core team member, tweeted: “5 years at TVF and no memory of who this female employee is. It's a baseless fictitious allegation. Haters pls don't stoop down to this level :("

5 yrs at TVF & no memory of who this Female employee is. It's a baseless fictitious allegation. Haters pls don't stoop down to this level :(

— Nidhi NEETU Bisht (@EkThapaTiger) March 13, 2017
She later clarified that TVF has zero tolerance towards workplace harassment and an investigation will be conducted and appropriate actions will be taken. "We have a Prevention of Sexual Harassment committee, backed by Legal and HR which deals with such issues," Nidhi said in Facebook.

TVF's shows such as Bachelors and Pitchers have seen success in the online entertainment space. The company has raised $10 million from Tiger Global.

The controversy has snowballed on social media with people asking to boycott TVF following allegations against the founder.

Comedian Aditi Mittal slammed the comedy community for being silent on the issue.

Silence from the comedy community is deafening.EVERYONE still"texting contacts"/"verifying facts" inspite of hearing stories abt it for yrs?

— Aditi Mittal (@awryaditi) March 13, 2017

It is very hard for women to speak up against harassment at the work place and as entrepreneurs it is our duty to make them feel safe.

— Tanmay Bhat (@thetanmay) March 13, 2017

Startups, or any company, have a responsibility to do sexual harassment training, sensitivity training, set up a committee to deal with this

— Tanmay Bhat (@thetanmay) March 13, 2017

Read the blog and it does seem genuine. This woman needs our support. Shame on you Arunabh Kumar! #BoycottTVF

— Apoorv (@apoorv_saurabh) March 14, 2017

#BoycottTVF undoubtedly! Molesters shouldn't deserve to be at such heights that tvf WAS just as. #Shame

— Pulak Kalia (@normal_ladki) March 13, 2017

Shame on TVF, really shame on you. No wonder the content of your programmes was sometimes very misogynistic #BoycottTVF

— Shipra Tyagi (@tyagshipra) March 13, 2017

Shame on TVF, really shame on you. No wonder the content of your programmes was sometimes very misogynistic #BoycottTVF

— Shipra Tyagi (@tyagshipra) March 13, 2017

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