Former employee renews #MeToo allegation against top Aaj Tak executive, India Today threatens legal action against complainant

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The India Today Group has issued a detailed statement in the immediate aftermath of allegations that it did not act firmly to deal with a sexual harassment case against one of its top TV executives in the past.

India Today Group

This was after a former India Today woman jourbalist wrote a detailed Facebook post alleging that she was let down by her then employer when she complained of sexual harassment in 2012.

She wrote, “Year 2012-2013. For one and a half years India Today group and I exchanged numerous mails about formation of a proper sexual harassment committee so that I could present my case against Mr Supriya Prasad. Aroon Purie/ Kalie Purie/ India Today group didn’t take any action in my sexual harassment case for a year. They delayed the process of justice. India Today Group/Aroon Purie/ Kalie Purie haven’t done anything since then ie for last six years.

“It took India Today Group one whole year to form a sexual harassment committee of sorts. However, this new SHC didn’t have the mandatory external member in it (who was supposed to be either well known in the field of law or women’s movement). I insisted that I must be called in front of a proper sexual harassment committee and that my work place owed it to me. I also refused to present my case in front of a half baked SHC.

“After a year and a half of my pursuing the case with the legal and HR team of India Today and my repeated refusal to present my case in front of a committee that didn’t have the mandatory external member the fake committee sent me a mail that they had decided that Supriya Prasad (male Boss) was innocent because among some other vague reasons apparently I knew him from before…whatever that meant.”

India Today, in its response, wrote that ‘Mr. Aroon Purie responded’ to Sen on 7 November, 2012, saying ‘that he would ask the HR Department to look in to her complaint.’ The statement then went on to add that a ‘complete investigation was jointly carried out by the TV Today Network’s Legal and HR team. Mr. Supriya Prasad was asked to submit a statement of explanation.’

“Formal statements of all present in the Mumbai Office were recorded. The matter was, subsequently, referred to the Internal Complaints Committee of TV Today Network. All of Ms. Sen’s requests regarding Committee constitution, including changing a member, were accepted and Ms. Sen was duly informed. The Committee had 5 members, including an external member. It had 3 female members. The process carried out for Ms. Sen, was in accordance with The Prevention of Sexual Harassment Act, 2013.

“The Committee was convened in Mumbai 3 times between November 2013 and January
2014, with sufficient notice to Ms. Sen. The Committee examined Ms. Sen’s complaint and Mr. Prasad’s explanation. Evidence from the internal investigation (i.e. statements from others) was also reviewed. Eight notices to appear before the Internal Complaints Committee were sent to Ms. Sen.”

The statement by India Today accused Sen of being ‘unfairly malicious towards the Group’ adding that the media group was ‘considering appropriate legal action’ against her.

(You can read Rukmini Sen’s Facebook post in full here). Read the full statement by India Today below.

#MeToo_A Statement by the I… by on Scribd

Elsewhere, another former India Today reporter alleged that she was once molested by her senior while travelling in the company car. Aditi Ananthanarayanan wrote, “I had just moved from the Desk in India Today to reporting. Those were my initial days as a Crime Reporter. I was asked to shadow a Senior Editor covering Crime. After a good day of learning the nuances of crime reporting, it was time to call it a day.

“Till the Senior Editor, who is no longer with India Today anymore and has now moved on to a higher position of handling a bureau in another news channel, told me that the camerapersons should come in one car and we both should come in another. As a rookie reporter, I agreed.We both sat on the seat at the back. Only to realise moments later, that the Man who I was looking up to had his hands feeling up the side of my thighs, I cringed! I tried to move to the extreme corner of the car, literally sticking to the door.”

Aditi said that ‘even that was NOT a signal enough for that creep that I was uncomfortable.’ She wrote that he kept reaching out to her even as he casually went through his phone on the other hand.

“Next option, I kept my bag in the middle. But he found his way through under my bag this time. Feeling miserable but not saying a word, I literally jumped out of a moving car as soon as we approached Vijay Chowk in central Delhi, which was my final stop..what did I do? NOTHING? I ran, tried to forget about it and did not go with the man on any other assignment,” she added.

Although the statement by India Today doesn’t make any references to Aditi’s horrific experience, it said, “Some other unfortunate incidents have also been socially tagged to the India Today Group. While, the Group empathizes and is concerned about any survivor who has suffered the trauma of sexual harassment in any form or degree, the Group would like to clarify that none of these incidents were reported during the tenures of the Complainants or Respondents. Unfortunately, without incidents being brought to Management’s attention, it is not possible to take due action.”

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