India Today’s executive editor Gaurav Sawant has said that he was consulting his lawyers after a fellow journalist accused of sexual harassment and attempted rape in 2003.
Amidst growing demands for action against Sawant, the Indian Today anchor tweeted, “The article published by Caravan is irresponsible, baseless, and completely false. I am talking to my lawyers and will take full legal action. So grateful to my family, friends, and viewers for their support.
The article published by Caravan is irresponsible, baseless, and completely false. I am talking to my lawyers and will take full legal action. So grateful to my family, friends, and viewers for their support.
— GAURAV C SAWANT (@gauravcsawant) November 12, 2018
A report by NDTV said that India Today, Sawant’s employer, had said that the media group was not in a position to investigate the matter since ‘Gaurav Sawant was not employed with us in 2003.’ “The article is distressing to read. Unfortunately, we are in no position to comment on it or investigate the matter since Gaurav Sawant was not employed with us in 2003. Nevertheless, Mr. Sawant has been asked to provide an explanation. Besides dismissing the allegations entirely, he has informed us that he is consulting lawyers to seek legal remedy,” NDTV quoted a statement by India Today.
Journalist Vidya Krishnan has told The Caravan magazine that Sawant sexually assaulted her in 2003 while she was on her first big assignment to the Beas in Punjab. Recounting her harrowing experience, Krishnan had said that one night she received a text message from Sawant who said that what he had in mind was “nothing naughty.” He just wanted to get into a bathtub with her.
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.”
As Krishnan’s voice got “louder and louder,” Sawant relented. “I think there was some sense of decency where he was like, ‘Okay, I can’t rape her,’ so he went away at that point,” Krishnan recalled. “He could have very well decided not to and there’s nothing I could have done, at least that’s how I felt at that point … I totally felt like if he had decided to go the other way, he could have.”
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.