One of the names that came up during the #MeToo movement was that of GS Vasu, the editor-in-chief of The New Indian Express, after as many as five women had come forward with complaints of sexual misconduct against him. Now, a senior editor with TNIE has resigned from his post citing his inability to work under someone who has been accused in the Me Too movement.
On November 20, Vikram Sharma, the Assistant Resident Editor (ARE) of the Telangana bureau of TNIE, submitted his resignation in a strongly worded email addressed to Vasu.
The email was released by Sandhya Menon, who was among the women who started this wave of Me Too in India. In the email, Vikram wrote, “When your name surfaced in the MeToo campaign, I, like everyone else, was surprised. Though some of the women who worked with TNIE earlier, often used to discuss, though in hush-hush tones, about your stares which made them uncomfortable, I never imagined that you would be accused of going as far as trying to touch women colleagues or do whatever they accused you of."
“But that being so, when you took the 'help' of a woman colleague in Hyderabad office to post something in your support and she did, I lost all the respect I had for you. She told many in office, including me, that she posted and deleted it on your request."
Vikram is referring to an episode where Manju Latha Kalanidhi, city editor and Hyderabad Indulge editor at TNIE who shortly after the accusations against an unnamed editor with TNIE came to light, posted her views on social media. Though the accusations never named Vasu, Manju Latha did so in her post, calling out Vasu as the one being accused by the women. In her post, Manju Latha talked about how in all her years of working with Vasu, he had never behaved inappropriately towards her or her team consisting mostly of women. The post was later deleted.
Vikram’s resignation has shocked the Hyderabad bureau, an employee at the organisation told TNM. “Vikram did not tell us about his resignation, he just walked out one day. An email as to why he resigned was sent to everyone at the bureau,” said one employee on the condition of anonymity. In the absence of a dedicated bureau chief, Vikram was also in charge of guiding reporters and overseeing news reports, apart from his regular duties.
"You know that when it came to stories of misconduct/corruption besides other things, we often went all guns blazing against bureaucrats, of course with all proper evidence. But now, I feel disgusted when the same sort of allegations are made against you, and all continue to work under you as if nothing has happened,” wrote Vikram.
TNM has learnt that the Internal Complaints Committee of TNIE has started hearing on the complaints of inappropriate touching and misconduct filed by five women. The ICC presided over by Lakshmi Menon has lawyer Sudha Ramalingam as external member and has already met a few of the complainants. However, Vasu continues to work at TNIE and has not been asked to go on leave while the inquiry is going on. Atleast one of the women, who have complained against Vasu, continue to work alongside him.
In his email, Vikram also accuses Vasu of interfering in editorial decisions and publishing false stories favouring the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS).
TNM reached out to Prabhu Chawla, Editorial Director of TNIE but he was unwilling to comment. We have also reached out to Manoj Kumar Sonthalia the Chairman of TNIE through an email.This copy will be updated as and when we receive a reply.