DD’s sexual harassment victims seek justice

New Delhi: Victims of sexual harassment at the hands of Doordarshan (DD) officials made a plea for justice here on Friday, saying despite several complaints, the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) has failed to indict its own men, and that approaching the police and court has resulted in nothing.

Representing the women victims, two of whom are still employed with the DD, Vandana Bhandari, a Supreme Court lawyer, said there are at least 10 cases of sexual harassment which have been reported in the last three years from various DD offices across the country, six of which are from Delhi alone.

“The problem with Prasar Bharati is that some of the accused are placed at very high positions and when their names were called out, the victims were further harassed through arbitrary transfer, or, silenced by senior colleagues from within,” Bhandari told reporters.

One of the victims present at the press conference (who requested anonymity), said she has not been getting her salary for the last eight months since she approached the ICC for action against a senior colleague, Shrikant Saxena, of sexually harassing her.

The 36-year-old sole earner in her family said she didn’t get justice from the ICC. On the contrary, she said she was immediately transferred to other department, where she is not being allowed to join.

Saxena has been named in two other cases of similar nature, Bhandari said.

A police complaint against the accused was also filed at Hauz Khas Police Station in June this year, to no avail.

“The police didn’t do anything since it didn’t get anything from the ICC. There’s a serious conflict of interest in the constitution of ICC at DD, where the ICC chairperson Niru Sharma, herself is a long-time employee of the entity,” Bhandari said.

Another victim, who worked at DD office in Bhopal, said she is afraid that even lesser number of women will come out with their stories now, after what happened in her case.

“I was given justice by the ICC. But it’s ruling was never implemented. After working for 10 years (2005-2015) I was forced to quit… Now they (accused) will make an example of me, saying ‘what happen with Aparna, will happen to you too if you complain’,” she said, adding, she had written to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry and the National Commission for Women too, but nothing came out of it.

Bhandari said when she last approached the DD’s ICC, they said they had no complaints pending with them.

She said one of the victims is an employee of DD’s Jaipur office, “who brought an international film award for DD at one of the film festivals”.

Among the victims are production assistants, reporters, anchors, and others she said.

DD is the broadcasting division of Prasar Bharati, an autonomous statutory body, under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.