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#MeToo: Hindustan Times Bureau Chief and Politics Editor asked to step down following sexual harassment allegations

After a Twitter user outed comedian Utsav Chakraborty’s sexual harassment on several girls, a floodgate of sorts has opened about similar revelations in the last week. Women have come forward with their stories about how they were harassed by people in powerful positions, many of them in various media organisations.

Following the barrage of allegations, now concerned organisations have been forced to take action against such persons in senior positions. After AIB asked its co-founder and CEO Tanmay Bhat to step down and placed Gursimran Khamba on a temporary leave following allegations against them, now reports have come that Political Editor and Bureau Chief of Hindustan Times Prashant Jha has been asked to step down from both his roles. According to reports, Editor in Chief of Hindustan Times R. Sukumar informed this development in an email sent to the staff.

Prashant Jha was accused of predatory behaviour by a young lawyer and journalist Avantika Mehta. In a series of tweets and screenshots of text messages posted on Twitter, she narrates how Jha continued his attempt at ‘hitting at her’, despite being married, and despite Avantika saying him no each time.

She further explained how the power equation worked in the Delhi media circle where such predatory behaviour is hard to point out.

She even posted screenshots of her conversation which she claims is to be with Jha.

The screenshots show how Jha would contently say that he is attracted to Avantika, and every time she would turn him down politely. Avantika notes that she had to say no in such a way that it does not offend him. Because he was in a powerful position and if he is offended there may be adverse repercussions on her career or she may be affected other ways. Even after realising that he is married and he has been said no by the girl, and saying that he would “back off”, he continues his effort to start an affair with the girl, the screenshots show.

After the departure of Jha, HT Editor Sukumar Ranganathan will take over charge of the bureau in the meantime.

With organisations starting to take action against people accused of sexual harassment against women, it remains to be seen how many more heads will roll.

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