Allegations of sexual harassment have surfaced against Calcutta Times Editor Satadru Ojha over the last two days. Since October 5, several women have made allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct against various journalists, media professionals and writers on social media.
On October 8, a woman claimed Ojha had sexually harassed her between 2013 and 2015 when she worked at The Times of India’s supplement newspaper. She alleged that after she approached the human resources department and the branch manager of The Times Group in Kolkata, she was mistreated at work. When the sexual harassment committee dismissed her complaint, she approached the police. However, the case was dismissed again, she said.
Responding, Ojha said the internal complaints committee had found her claims to be unsubstantiated. “Malicious and defamatory statements have been made against me by an ex-colleague, alleging inappropriate sexual conduct,” Ojha claimed on Twitter on Tuesday. “The person is question escalated a complaint to the company, making false allegations. The person then filed complaints with the police and court. The charges were found to be false after due investigation and dismissed by both authorities.”
Anshul Chaturvedi, National Editor of Metro Supplements, The Times of India, told Scroll.in: “We have taken cognizance of the allegations and a high-level, independent inquiry has been set up to look into the matter. We are approaching individuals to understand their versions and gather information/evidence so that an inquiry can be carried out. We are further inquiring if any current employees have been impacted by inappropriate behaviour at the workplace. Once the investigation is complete and subject to such evidence being made available, appropriate action will be expeditiously taken.”
No details were provided regarding the complaint taken to internal complaints committee, which Ojha mentioned in his tweets.
Later on Tuesday, another woman on Facebook claimed to have been bullied and harassed by Ojha. She said she faced discrimination at work after she refused his advances in 2016.
#MeToo in India
The allegations come at a time when several women, including journalists, have taken to social media to give detailed accounts of the sexual harassment and misconduct they faced. The campaign, being dubbed as the #MeToo movement in India, has taken the media fraternity by storm as several senior journalists, writers and media professionals have been accused of misconduct.
Director Vikas Bahl, former Hindustan Times political editor Prashant Jha, actor Rajat Kapoor, Kashmiri journalist Fahad Shah, minister MJ Akbar, stand-up comedian Utsav Chakraborty and author Chetan Bhagat are among those who have been accused of sexual misconduct in the past few days.
The Times of India sent its Hyderabad Resident Editor KR Sreenivas, who was accused by a woman journalist of sexual harassment, on “administrative leave” on Monday. Sreenivas had earlier said the company had constituted a committee to look into the allegations against him.
Some women also posted on Twitter about journalist Mayank Jain, a reporter at Business Standard, who formerly worked at Scroll.in and BloombergQuint. Jain later resigned, but has not yet responded to queries regarding these allegations.
In view of the statements of women who have made public their experiences of Mayank Jain’s misconduct, we at Scroll in the spirit of fair disclosure would like to state that Mayank Jain worked for Scroll from October 15, 2014 to October 30, 2016, and then from June 12, 2017 to December 31, 2017.
A woman employee informally and verbally brought to the attention of a member of the internal complaints committee (ICC) at Scroll an instance of sexually inappropriate online behaviour by Mayank Jain in 2017. The employee, however, did not want to pursue the matter through a formal written complaint, without which no formal inquiry can be initiated. Despite this, the ICC took serious note of the matter and served a written warning to Mayank Jain, reminding him of Scroll’s strict policies prohibiting sexual harassment.
We, at Scroll, commit to continuing to better understand women’s experiences at the workplace and evolve further processes that may be required to prevent, acknowledge and respond to work cultures that are not enabling for women.
This article includes only those accounts in which the women have chosen to name themselves and their alleged harassers or in cases which there have been multiple accusations against one person. Scroll.in reporters are continuing to report the story, including efforts to corroborate and cover the cases where the women have chosen to be anonymous.