Congress IT cell sexual harassment case, victim says inquiry a sham, did not expect justice from Divya Spandana

The former Congress IT cell worker who has recently lodged an FIR against her former colleague has expressed her displeasure over the way the so-called inquiry by the IT cell was carried out. In an interview to mynation.com, a news website backed by Asianet News and is headed by former MailToday editor Abhijit Majumder, the victim has narrated how her repeated objections were ignored.

The victim, who had worked in the capacity of social media manager in the Congress IT cell office located at 15, Gurudwara Rakabganj Road had alleged that her colleague Chirag Patnaik had on several occasions sexually harassed her and despite her writing to the Congress President Rahul Gandhi and complaining to Congress social media head Divya Spandana, there has been no action against the accused and she was instead further harassed mentally.

In her interview to MyNation.com, the victim has narrated that on a regular basis, the accused, Chirag, has breached her breathing space, touched and stared at her. She mentioned that she had objected to such behaviour but he did not stop. The victim has also narrated that on several occasions Patnaik used to put his shoes in front of her even when she was having food.

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The victim, whose identity has been hidden as per her wishes, said that while others behaved well with her, Patnaik did not. She also mentions that she had discussed Patnaik’s behaviour with Divya Spandana in a closed-door meeting. But instead of taking her complaint into cognisance and proceeding to find out further, Divya Spandana had reportedly diverted the topic and had started to compliment her over work performance. She adds that Patnaik had a great deal of control over Divya and he ran things in the office in her absence. She asserts that Divya Spandana deliberately brushed the matter under the carpet.

She said she joined the IT cell in July 2017 and her experience wasn’t good. She found Divya’s behaviour unexpectable, as she yelled and shouted at the team and humiliated her in front of the team. The victim has also stated that there was a culture of bullying and humiliating in Divya Spandana’s office. She narrates that when she had tried to point the facts of wrong working environment she was fired by Divya Spandana. However, after being fired the first time within 20 days of joining, she was hired again in 2018.

On being asked whether she has received any response from the Congress President or the AICC grievance redressal committee over her complaint, the victim denied of receiving any response. She stated that she is disappointed because she expected at least an acknowledgement from them.

Divya Spandana issued a clarification. She shared a letter which had signatures of many office workers of the social media cell where they had come out supporting Chirag.

On being asked how does she felt about two signatories from that letter that Divya posted being members of the committee that has been formed to probe her grievance, the victim expressed her amusement and said she had no idea when this committee was formed. She also added that she expected the probe to be biased from the beginning.

The victim states that she was contacted by Divya Spandana over an email that the social media office would conduct an unbiased probe and within hours Divya shared that letter declaring support for Patnaik. Interestingly two of the people who have signed the support for Patnaik are also believed to be in the committee which will probe the incident. This raises the question whether the probe will be fair. She said the least these members could have done is stay unbiased.

She claims Divya emailed her and promised her an unbiased probe just before the defence Divya put up on Twitter. She claims that Divya does not represent the party in any way, as every single principle the party claims to stand for, is violated. She calls it a fight between a person and certain people of a department, not a person versus a party.

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