Anchor attempts suicide blaming seniors of harassment, channel blames her of harassing seniors.

news Wednesday, February 25, 2015 - 05:30

Dhanya Rajendran & Monalisa Das| The News Minute | June 24, 2014 | 06:10 pm IST 

One of the anchors working with Hindi news channel India TV headed by journalist Rajat Sharma, recently attempted suicide, alleging harassment from colleagues and top management.

The anchor is stable at present.

Reacting to the allegations made by the anchor in her suicide note uploaded on Facebook, India TV says she had a “minor disagreement with her seniors in the newsroom” and accuses her of ‘mentally harassing’ the seniors mentioned in her complaint and their families.

In her suicide note, the anchor blames two senior journalists in the newsroom and the CEO of the channel, for harassing her.

The India TV statement further says that the anchor, after a minor disagreement sent an sms to the HR department saying she is resigning. When the HR department accepted her resignation on Saturday, she submitted her i-card and- “the matter was amicably closed.” 

The statement further says, “On Sunday morning she started sending some very demeaning and vicious messages to her seniors and in one message threatened to harm herself. As soon as it came to our knowledge, HR and admin considered it and found it appropriate and necessary to report the matter to the police immediately.”

However, her friend Sunanda Dixit, also a journalist had a different tale to tell.

These channels are run like feudal, patriarchal houses. Management and top editorial never take no for an answer. She was asked by her senior to ‘socialise with people important to the channel,’ she says. “She is not a fresher, but a senior journalist who has worked in the industry for a long time. She categorically refused to entertain their requests to ‘socialise’. That is when the harassment started,” Sunanda added.

Sunanda also alleges that certain people in the editorial team of India TV would first tell the anchor, “you are pretty and smart. You should be more outgoing and do good PR. When she refused, they started harassing and humiliating her, and would even abuse her through the talk back while she was live anchoring shows. They were continuously finding faults with her and drove her to a breaking point. The pressure was coming right from the top”, says Sunanda.

India TV’s Faizul Islam, the Editor (Planning) said ‘no comments’ when The News Minute asked him about Sunanda’s allegations. He added that there was no way the CEO Anita Sharma would have interacted with someone who joined the company just four months ago and so the anchor mentioning the CEO in the complaint was ‘not right.’

Sunanda retorted to Islam’s comment saying, “We never said the CEO spoke to her directly, but she had a chain of communication in the newsroom and that’s how the pressure was built on her.”

She also added that they were surprised that Rajat Sharma’s wife’s name was not included by the police in the FIR, though her name was there on the suicide note.

Sunanda slammed the media’s silence over the issue, “Why is the media silent? They have taken up issues of so many women including Preity Zinta’s recently. This is the core of the problem. No one wants to question the media. We know we are up against a powerful group, but we will fight.”

The outcome of this case cannot be predicted. However, this case may have created a slit in a well-protected wall through which one can see parts of the underbelly of the Indian media. On a day when many cameras followed Preity Zinta, the silence on this case by most in the media is telling.

Read- A TV Journalist's open letter to Indian news editors 

And - India TV anchor suicide attempt over harassment allegations not TV news worthy?

India TV's statement

Last week, anchor (with India TV) had a minor disagreement with her seniors in the newsroom, followed which she sent a sms to her departmental head saying that she is resigning. Her decision was confirmed with her. Thereafter, her decision to resign communicated by her through sms and confirmed by her, was forwarded to HR. HR proceeded to accept her resignation. They also informed her by mail that her decision to resign has been accepted, and she should meet them for relieving formalities. She came to the office and submitted her I-card, etc. and the matter was amicably closed. On Sunday morning she started sending some very demeaning and vicious messages to her seniors and in one message threatened to harm herself. As soon as it came to our knowledge HR and admin considered it and found it appropriate and necessary to report the matter to the police immediately. We also requested them to immediately send their people to her house to verify and ensure that no harm comes to her. In the meanwhile she stood on the road outside the building and tried to consume something, security and HR staff strived to stop her, and rushed her to the nearby hospital immediately. Doctors have informed us that she is safe and have advised that she needs psychiatric counseling.

The two people she has named are senior and very respected people in the organization. She has caused immense mental harassment to them and to their families.

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