The #MeToo wave has hit AIR. Nine women employees of All India Radio’s Shahdol station in Madhya Pradesh have publicly accused the station’s assistant director (programming), Ratnakar Bharti, of sexual harassment, as per reports

Bharti still remains employed one year after being declared guilty 

Reportedly, a police complaint was filed against him and the Internal Complaint Committee of AIR declared him guilty a year ago. Bharti, however, remains stationed at present, at the AIR headquarters in New Delhi. The AIR director general Fayyaz Shehryar said Bharti is under the strictest vigilance watch.

Meanwhile, the broadcasting division has sacked all the nine women complainants, all of whom are casual broadcasters at the station. 

Similar complaints of harassment received from other stations

Complaints citing similar instances of sexual harassment have also been received from Dharamshala, Obra, Sagar, Rampur, Kurukshetra and Delhi stations. The AIR employee union has claimed that all the accused have been let off with just a warning in all these cases. On the other hand, all complainants have been asked to leave their respective services. 

“Every incident that has been reported has been probed by the Internal Complaints Committee. In the Shahdol instance, after the ICC verdict, Ratnakar Bharti was transferred immediately from Shahdol and he remains under the strictest vigilance watch at the DG Headquarters,” director general All India Radio, Fayyaz Shehryar, told TOI.

Bharti is currently facing proceedings under section FR 56(j) of the Central Civil Services Pension Rules notified by the department of personnel and training (DoPT). The broadcaster may give him compulsory retirement through this.

No link between complaint against Bharti and staff termination: DG

Shehryar denied any sort of connection between the complaints filed against Bharti and the sacking of the women employees. “The review of casual broadcasters is an annual affair where poor performers are weeded out following a three-tiered process. Those who are left out tend to make this an ego issue. We cannot overlook a rule to benefit any individual,” he said.

Now, the All India Radio trade union has formally approached Prasar Bharati chief executive Shashi Shekhar Vempati, demanding to reinstate complainants and take the strictest action against the accused persons. This move is based on the Shahdol case along with similar complaints from six other AIR stations.

“WeToo in MeToo”

The All India Radio Trade Union employees said, in a letter to Vempati pleading “WeToo in MeToo”, demanded that the Prasar Bharati CEO look into the matter seriously and reinstate these survivors. The union has asked for compensation for employees for their loss and ensuring strictest possible punishment to all accused officials.  

Featured image credit: All India Radio

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