‘Will You Stay With Me?’: J&K Editor to Girl Seeking Internship
The 20-year-old is considering complaint with the Press Council of India against JK Monitor Editor Ajmer Alam Wani.
Twenty-year-old Esha Mitra, a student of English Literature from Presidency University in Kolkata, was on the lookout for a journalism internship in Kashmir. She did what any 20-something searching for an internship in India would do. She messaged a number LinkedIn contacts, requesting a summer internship.
But the conversation that played out between her and the Editor-in-Chief Ajmer Alam Wani of JK Monitor took a turn that was both “inappropriate and startling”, said Mitra, speaking to The Quint. She added that she was considering filing complaint against Wani with the Press Council of India (PCI).
The editor of the Kashmir-based online news portal allegedly asked her to take the conversation forward on WhatsApp. Initially, Mitra says, the conversation was about the nature of internship, and what she expected from it. But soon, Mitra told The Quint, the conversation took an “ugly turn”.
On 5 May, a day after she after her conversation with Wani, Mitra took to Facebook to post screenshots of the WhatsApp messages.
Through the course of this conversation, my tone had remained entirely professional, but I was forced to adopt a more casual tone when he said he assumed that the man in my DP was my boyfriend, following which he continued to adopt an informal tone, while I tried to keep it formal.Esha Mitra
He also allegedly suggested that she could stay with him during the course of the internship.
“As is visible in the following pictures, he asked me if I would be comfortable travelling with him for reporting purposes, and remarked on my accommodating attitude when I responded in the affirmative. He then proceeded to ask me if I would stay with him during the course of this internship (clarifying that his family would not be there). This seemed to cross a line with me, so I shut down the conversation in the most civil manner possible.”
Mitra says that it was “evident” from his tonality that the conversation was not a “gesture of generosity”.
“Why Was She Willing to Do Unpaid Internship?”: JK Monitor’s Response
Soon after Mitra’s post went viral on Facebook, JK Monitor responded to the allegations saying that Mitra’s internship application raised “important” questions including why a student would agree to do “unpaid internship”. They also claimed that her hidden intention was to seek “publicity” and "sympathy".
JK Monitor raised five “important” questions in response to the allegations:
The girl was clearly told that she will not be paid anything if allowed to work for the organisation as an intern. To this, without giving a second thought, she agreed. This gave a bit doubt to our mind, and we asked why she was interested in Kashmir only, and she gave her own opinion, which was not convincing.JK Monitor Statement
Speaking to The Quint, Mitra said that she has always been “curious” about Kashmir and its affairs and has always wanted to work on the ground in the state.
But JK Monitor came up with more objections. They further wrote:
“To dig out more from inside, she was asked if there would be a problem in travelling with a man for reporting, to which she replied she did not have one. She was also asked if she will be willing to stay in a private residence, without family. To this every girl would gave a straight answer with a big NO, as it is not acceptable to anyone. But instead, she said, she will talk to her parents.”
Responding to the JK Monitor’s statement, Mitra replied:
This is blatant distortion of facts. He has specifically taken parts of our conversation, and has tried hard to make it appear as if it’s a part of larger agenda.
She added that while this may seem like a “minuscule” incident, there was a very high possibility that this could have gone wrong.
The Quint has reached out to Wani, and will update the copy on receiving his response.
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