The Statesman staffer's letter to the editor

A former colleague at The Statesman, Kolkata, Ms. Rina Mukherji, has made certain shocking allegations about a colleague of ours, Ishan Joshi, in an e-mail entitled "Fighting Sexual Harassment - My Personal Experience" that has been circulated all around the world. Some of the allegations made by her are part of proceedings preferred by her and pending before the Labour Commissioner, Government of West Bengal, and we would not like to comment on these. However, there are other very serious allegations that are false to our knowledge and these deserve to be highlighted.

1. In her e-mail, Ms. Mukherji has alleged that Mr Joshi was not just pawing her in the corridors, but even in the News Room, in full view of every one. She has further alleged that Mr Joshi's hands would always be on hers, if she ever happened to be within range, notwithstanding the presence of the Chief Reporter, the News Editors, and sundry senior and junior colleagues.

This allegation is a lie. We work in an open-plan news room, a hall measuring approximately 60 feet by 60 feet.Workstations are arranged in such a manner that each of us either faces the wall, or other colleagues. There are four glass cabins, occupied by Mr Joshi, the Art Director, the Assistant Editor (Features) and the News Editor/Deputy News Editor. These cabins DO NOT have full height partitions.

None of us have ever seen Mr Joshi paw Ms Mukherji, either in the News Room, or in the corridors or elsewhere. Each of us has seen interactions between Mr Joshi and Ms Mukherji on various occasions during her employment at The Statesman, and can state without reservation that these were always professional.

2. Ms Mukherji has alleged that several people were provoked to whisper or look quizzically by Mr Joshi's alleged conduct.

This, too, is a lie. As no incidents of the sort she described took place, the question of there having been such reactions does not arise.

3. Ms Mukherji has alleged that from July-end the harassment reached such levels that Mr Joshi would stalk her all over the office and paw her all the time. She has stated further that by this time she had made friends in the office and was able to confide in them.

This, too, is a lie. Any one who has visited The Statesman will bear out that ours is an open office and that kind of actions Ms Mukherji talks about are just not possible. Further, we can - each one of us - confirm that Ms. Mukherji never complained of any form of sexual harassment during the period of her employment with The Statesman to any of us.

4. Ms Mukherji claims that the formation of a Sexual Harassment Committee at The Statesman was somehow a consequence of her efforts.

This, too, is a lie. In June 2002, many of us were present at a staff meeting where the Managing Editor, Mr Ravindra Kumar, read out a letter received by the newspaper from the chairperson of the National Commission for Women, asking if The Statesman had formed such a committee. He then told us that we would need to set up such committees at both Kolkata and New Delhi, and asked those of us who were interested to volunteer to serve on the committee. There was a fairly long discussion on the subject. The committee was formed after a sufficient number of people had volunteered, and after counsel had vetted the draft documentation.

We are shocked and dismayed at what we see as a persistent and malicious campaign to vilify The Statesman and some of our colleagues. Equally, we are shocked at the suggestion made by Ms Mukherji that any of us would stand by and watch if the sort of sexual harassment that she alleges took place before our eyes. As will be evident from the list of signatories, The Statesman employs as many women as it does men. To suggest that any of us would witness such conduct, and not react, is incredible and defames each one of us.


NAME DESIGNATION

Esha Bhattacharjee, Reporter-cum-Sub-editor
Swagata Sen, Reporter-cum-Sub-editor
Soma Mukherjee, Staff Reporter
Kshaunish Sarkar, Chief Reporter
Simi Kamboj, Staff Reporter
Althea Phillips, Senior Sub-editor
Sucheta Dasgupta, Sub-editor
Sougata Mukhapadhyay, Staff Reporter
Mita Ghose, Senior Sub-editor-cum-Reporter
Chitralekha Basu, Senior Sub-editor
Tirthankar Mitra, Special Representative
Debabrata Chakrabarti, Senior Artist
Chandidas Bhattacharya, Senior Artist
Arunava Das, Editorial Coordinator
Ajay Kumar, Neogi Artist
Sukomal Basak, Deputy Art Director
Kunal Bhowmick, Assistant Art Director
Brindavan Maity, Senior Artist
Dipankar Ghosh, Assistant to Art Director
Goutam Bhowmick, Artist
Ratan Pradhan, Art Director
Sreemoy Talukdar, Sub-editor
Monojit Dasgupta, Sub-editor
Nivedita Ganguli, Senior Sub-editor
Tanmay Chatterjee, Special Representative
Anindya Dasgupta, Special Representative
Uday Basu, Special Representative
Imran Ahmed Siddiqui, Staff Reporter
Sunirman Ray, Sub-editor
Elora Sen, Sports Editor
OP Rana, Assistant Editor
Tarun Goswami, Special Representative
Rajrupa Ghosh, Reporter-cum-Sub-editor
Hemchhaya De, Sub-editor
V. Shubha, Reporter-cum-Sub-editor
Bijoy Sengupta, Senior Photographer
Rajib De, Senior Photographer
Subhashish Gupta, Chief Sub-editor
Gautam Bhattacharjee, DeputyChief Sub-editor/Reporter
Arindam Ghosh-Dastidar, News Editor

More on Rina's case at: Bengal Network: Rina Mukherji's case against The Statesman