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Prasar Bharati responds to NCW note on sexual harassment in AIR

Written by PaperDabba

The Prasar Bharati is an autonomous body that runs Doordarshan (DD) and All India Radio (AIR) but receives grant from the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) ministry.

Responding to allegations of sexual harassment in All India Radio (AIR), Prasar Bharati has informed the National Commission of Women (NCW) that it has transferred the accused who was found guilty of sexual harassment after nine women complained against him.

In a statement issued on Friday, the NCW said that it has received an Action Taken Report from Prasar Bharati. The NCW statement added that Prasar Bharati’s report said it has taken action against the accused after “nine cases of sexual harassment were received against the accused officer of AIR”. The report, however, makes no mention of the issue of reinstatement of jobs of the nine women employees sacked after they spoke up.

Prasar Bharati’s response came after NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma wrote to Prasar Bharati CEO Shashi S Vempati and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting regarding a complaint from “All India Radio Casual Announcer and Comperes Union (AIRCACU) alleging sexual harassment at workplace of casual announcers and comperes working in different stations of All India Radio throughout the country”.

Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi had also written to Information and Broadcasting Minister Rajyavardhan Rathore after AIRCACU wrote to her about #MeToo cases in AIR. According to sources, Rathore is yet to reply.

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AIRCACU’s letter pointed out how women casual workers who complain of sexual harassment are removed from the job, citing the instance of Shahdol AIR station where nine women were sacked after they lodged a formal complaint against the station’s then assistant director Ratnakar Bharti. AIRCACU’s letter said, Bharti himself was only transferred to AIR headquarters in Delhi even as the Internal Complaint’s Committee (ICC) inquiry found him guilty. The Prasar Bharati report also admitted that the charges were found to be true following which the officer was been transferred “as an administrative measure” and, as per the ICC recommended disciplinary action, his salary will be reduced to a lower pay scale.

It states Prasar Bharati has also taken “preventive measures” such as “posting of women Programme Executives as station in-Charge, installation of CCTV cameras at vantage points, and providing transport facility to women employees during odd hours”.

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