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#MeToo: AIR Employee Accused of Sexual Harassment Found Guilty

Nine women employees of AIR’s Shahdol station had accused Assistant Director Ratnakar Bharti of sexual harassment.

Published
India
3 min read
#MeToo: AIR Employee Accused of Sexual Harassment Found Guilty
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An All India Radio (AIR) official accused of sexual harassment by nine women employees has been demoted from his position and subjected to other salary cuts as he was found guilty, the National Commission for Women (NCW) said on Friday, 7 December according to IANS.

"The disciplinary authority accepted the recommendations and the authority imposed a major penalty of reduction to a lower pay scale by two stages for one year and no increment during the reduction period," the NCW said in a statement.

Nine women announcers of AIR were asked to leave last month after they went public with their allegations of sexual harassment at their workplace accusing Ratnakar Bharti, the Assistant Director of Shahdol station in MP of sexual harassment.

"After the expiration of one year, the reduction period will have effects on subsequent increments. The accused was also transferred as an administrative measure," the Commission said.

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The NCW in its letter addressed to the Secretary, Information and Broadcasting, and CEO, Prasar Bharati, last month had directed to conduct an inquiry into the complaints.

The Commission's direction came after it received a formal complaint dated 12 November from the office-bearers of the All India Radio Casual Announcer and Comperes Union alleging sexual harassment at workplace of casual announcers and comperes working in different stations of the AIR across the country.

The Prasar Bharati, in response to the NCW letter, had also mentioned certain preventive measures taken by the AIR, like posting of women Programme Executives as station In-Charge, installation of CCTV cameras at vantage points and providing transport facility to women employees during odd hours.

According to the NCW, the Prasar Bharati Secretariat has asked its centres to send quarterly progress reports with respect to sexual harassment complaints being inquired into by the respective internal committees.

Earlier on 9 November, Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi wrote to Information and Broadcasting Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore to ensure that a "sensitive and fair system" is put in place at the state-owned AIR to address the sexual harassment complaints.

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The Allegations

Three victims had shared incidents of sexual harrassment in detail.

One of the complainants had alleged that Bharti offered his sperm to her so she could have a baby.

“He [Ratnakar Bharti] said to me directly, ‘Madam, if you are unable to have a baby, you could take my sperm. This way you could also be happy’. I got up immediately, warning him of the actions I would take against him. He threatened me, saying that he is well-connected all the way from here to Delhi, so I could do whatever I wanted. He said, ‘You can’t do a thing to me. Even if you say anything, you will ruin your own reputation and nothing will happen to me’.”
Complainant, AIR Shahdol

Another victim had alleged that Bharti rubbed her with a towel after she got drenched in the rains one day.

“It was raining and my house was far from Akashvani, so I got drenched on my way to office. I went to inform him, ‘Sir, I have reached’. He quickly took out a towel and grabbed me forcefully, then rubbed me in a very dirty way,” she had said.

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