Satadru Ojha, Editor of Calcutta Times, the entertainment supplement of The Times of India, has been “relieved of his current duties and relocated to a different role and city to facilitate an unbiased investigation”, following allegations of sexual harassment against him.
In the past week, two women publicly mentioned their ordeal working with Ojha. The TOI statement issued today mentioned that “Once the investigation is complete, subject to evidence being made available, appropriate action will be taken.”
The #MeToo movement has taken the country by storm with men in stand-up comedy, films, politics and journalism accused of sexual misconduct.
Amita Ghose, a journalist who worked with Calcutta Times, lodged a complaint with Kolkata Police on Wednesday against Ojha for sexually harassing her when she worked in the newspaper.
Ghose worked in Calcutta Times between 2016 and August 2017 as a correspondent and reported to Ojha. She is the second former employee of The Times of India, Kolkata, to publicly narrate the ordeal of working with Ojha. Earlier, the other former employee, Nasreen Khan, also wrote about her experience (yet another former employee, who has spoken of similar experiences of sexual harassment, did not want to disclose her name).
Ghose has reportedly told the police that she was deterred from filing a complaint with police around 2016-17 when she saw how Ojha used the Times of India machinery to scare people. However now that more and more women were coming up with their narratives, she had reported it to the police. She has also said she was compelled to quit her job as she found it difficult to work under such pressure and with such humiliation. In her account, Ghose has written that though things were fine initially, she started getting calls around midnight from Ojha asking her if everything was fine with her life (“Kono chaap nei toh? Kono Osubidhe hochche na to? Life e sob kichu thik ache? Tumi amake bolte paro”). She wrote that Ojha complimented her on her clothes and makeup, asked her if she drank alcohol, and invited her for a drink. She alleged that he even asked her to not continue her relationship with a colleague. Every time she resisted, she faced the brunt professionally, Ghose said.
Nasreen Khan, in her account mentioned that she continued the fight from 2013 to 2015. She wrote that Ojha had called her up to say she could enjoy extra days off from work if she knew how to play her cards well. On October 9, Ojha had tweeted: “Malicious and defamatory statements have been made against me by an ex-colleague, alleging inappropriate sexual conduct… the charges were found to be false after due investigation and dismissed…”
Following the women’s narratives coming into the public domain and after the police complaint filed by Ghose, TOI issued a statement mentioning that Ojha was being relocated to a different city. “We would like to reiterate that one of the cases which is being widely discussed on social media was investigated in detail when a complaint was filed. The complaint was dismissed after a detailed investigation by the ICC due to absence of corroborating evidence. However, we are looking into fresh allegations and issues raised by other individuals.”
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