#MeToo: AIR Accused As Sexual Harassment Cases Tumble Out
Women employees of All India Radio (AIR) have gone public with their allegations of sexual harassment at their workplace.
Nine women announcers of AIR were asked to leave after they accused Ratnakar Bharti, the Assistant Director of Shahdol station in MP.
Three victims shared incidents of sexual harrassment in detail.
“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
“He would harass me, saying, ‘I’ll put you on night duty, I’ll get you kidnapped. You won’t even know where you’ll be’. I am not married yet and he harassed me for that also, saying, ‘What is the guarantee that you are still unmarried?’ Who is he to ask me if I am unmarried? Why should I answer, who is he?Complainant, AIR Shahdol
All the nine complainants were sacked after they registered a case on June 2017 against Bharti, who was then promoted and transferred from Shahdol to Delhi.
Many cases of sexual harrassment have also emerged from various AIR stations – in Kurukshetra in Haryana, Obra in UP, and Dharmshala in HP.
A casual announcer who worked in AIR Dharmshala accused program head Suresh Kumar of forcibly kissing her inside the studio while she was recording a caller for Mann Ki Baat in August 2016. The CCTV footage for the time during which she claims the incident occurred is missing.
In Obra station of UP, a casual announcer in 2010 accused its officials of ‘watching pornographic films and drinking at the station’. She also said she faced another episode of harassment when librarian Suresh Chandra Nirala showed her a nude magazine. She also accused station head GP Nirala of making an obscene remark about her.
In AIR Kurukshetra, the ICC told the complainant that she should have reported the incident immediately or within three months, and the reason why her report holds no merit is because she took eight months to register it.
The complainant had met a senior AIR official Shivendra Srivastava for work and he asked her to do a story on street harassment.
“Srivastava asked me if I knew what ‘eve-teasing’ was. I told him that every woman knew what the term meant, having experienced some form of it in their lifetime. He then asked if I knew what rape was. He went on to explain in great detail why rapes happen. He also stated that rapes occur with less frequency [elsewhere] as compared to India because men and women were accustomed to seeing each other’s private parts.”Complainant, AIR Kurukshetra