India Today’s Executive Editor and a prominent anchor on the media group’s English channel, Gaurav Sawant, has become the latest media personality to face serious allegations of sexual misconduct. The journalist accusing him of nearly raping her on an assignment in the Beas in 2003 is Vidya Krishnan, who shared her story with The Caravan magazine.
A special issue of The Caravan: How Vijay Nair's Only Much Louder failed the women in its ranks; Eleven women speak out against Jatin Das's sexual misconduct; A journalist accuses primetime anchor Gaurav Sawant of sexual assault.#MeTooIndia #TimesUp pic.twitter.com/zXNEYuYv9K
— The Caravan (@thecaravanindia) November 12, 2018
Vidya told The Caravan that she had first come in contact with Sawant when he visited the Amity University in 2002-2003, when she was pursuing the diploma course in journalism against the wishes of her parents, who lived in Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh then.
Recounting her experience, she told the magazine, “We used to get a lot of these boring, old lecturers, and suddenly this young guy came so there was a bit of talk around that.” Krishnan said that after completing her course, she got her first job with The Pioneer newspaper, which sent her on a military assignment to cover a peacetime drill in a military station at Beas—a riverfront town in Punjab.
Also accompanying her was Sawant, according to the magazine. Krishnan said that her trip Beas turned into a nightmare as Sawant, ‘the teacher figure that she looked up to, sexually harassed and assaulted her for most part of the journey.’
She said that some time into the journey, while speaking to other men in the jeep, Sawant placed his right hand on Krishnan’s right shoulder.Although she felt uncomfortable, she ‘questioned her first instinct.’ The Caravan quoted her as saying, “I briefly thought it was an accident.. I was like, ‘Okay, maybe I am getting this wrong? I’ll just move away.’” She said that she made several attempts to readjust her position but Sawant ‘kept at it.’
That night, Krishnan said that she received a text message from Sawant stating that he wanted to come to her room. She said that she wanted to turn him down without being rude, given that he was still a powerful man in a profession where she was just a rookie. She could only remember some of the phrases Sawant had used. He had said what he had in mind was “nothing naughty.” He just wanted to get into a bathtub with her.
She said that ‘the groping became something that he said out loud’ adding that ‘then it became something that he just spelt out that he wanted to get … he wanted to get into the bathtub.’
Within minutes of that message and her negative response to it, she added, Sawant knocked at her door. She said that Sawant entered the room as soon as she opened the door. ““In my mind, there was a fear that I might have to end up doing what he wanted,” she recalled adding that “I was not confident that I could stand my ground and say ‘No.’”
What followed next was horrifying for Krishnan. She said that Sawant then unzipped his pants, and began trying to force her hand towards his penis.
“He had not backed off … I had it made it very visible to him that this was an unwelcome advance. He had not backed off,” Krishnan said. “I felt like he was overpowering me, which is why in my panic I started screaming.”
Krishnan said that she naming Sawant after so many years was entirely about ‘me being at peace with myself.” According to Krishnan, Sawant committed the alleged sexual misconduct just when his marriage was fixed.
The Caravan magazine said that it sent several emails to Sawant seeking his response but he had not responded to those emails.