Photos and videos of a health official in Karnataka sexually harassing his women colleagues have gone viral on Friday, November 26. Officials said that the Karnataka Health Department had suspended Dr Ratnakar, a district level officer in Dakshina Kannada district on November 8 for inappropriate behaviour recorded earlier in August. The officer in question was posted as the nodal officer for Ayushman Bharat and is the Health Officer of Leprosy Department in Mangaluru. There was an inquiry into the matter in August after an official complaint was sent to the Health Department in the district; and subsequently, to the district administration.
Several photos and a video show Dr Ratnakar behaviour inappropriately with women colleagues. In multiple photos, he can be seen holding women who are sitting on his lap. In one he is standing over a woman holding her hands, while she is laying on the floor. When these came to light, many questioned if the officer should continue in public office.
Speaking with TNM, Dakshina Kannada Deputy Commissioner, Rajendra KV, said, “There were allegations of misconduct against the said officer by his colleagues in the department. That complaint was followed up by the Internal Committee of the district health department and a prima facie involvement of the officer was established. The case was referred to the district level committee. Following that, the district level committee too found the officer’s involvement to be true.”
He said that then the district administration forwarded the complaint at the state government level, based on which the officer was suspended and further probe is on. “The Health Department at the state government level will take further necessary action on this matter,” the DC added.
Reports said that the officer harassed women staffers in the office if they did not agree to go on trips with him. In one media shared online, the officer is seen making his woman colleague sit on his thighs, while she tries to get away, while another photo shows him with both his legs on another woman’s lap.