Reputed columnist, Manu Joseph, has made a startling claim on Twitter. In November last year, he had claimed that The Wire had refused to report Anjuli Pandit’s account of sexual harassment at the Taj because of fear of the Tatas. Pandit is a former Tata Group Executive.
1. Anjuli Pandit was harassed at Taj by her former boss. She thought @thewire_in will carry her account because of its high-morals public posturing but its editor @svaradarajan declined citing fear of Tatas. Is @thewire_in more terrified of prospective donors than the BJP?
— Manu Joseph (@manujosephsan) November 1, 2018
Then, Tata was believed to be a possible donor to The Wire. Siddharth Varadarajan, the Founding Editor of Wire, had vehemently denied the claim.
Sorry to disappoint you but this is utter rubbish. No one sent me Anjuli Pandit’s account. I never turned it down, “citing fear of Tatas” or of anybody.
— Siddharth (@svaradarajan) November 2, 2018
As per Pandit’s account, which was later carried in Indian Express, she narrates how complaining against her abuser, her boss, she was robbed of her personal and professional goals. In her article, she mentions, without giving any specific names, that she was turned down by Indian journalists who didn’t want to carry her story.
While the above conversation was long forgotten, a twist in the tale yesterday brought it back up. It was revealed that the Tatas have funded The Wire. Following the revelation, Joseph further asked Sidharth Bhatia, Founder Editor at Wire, if the funding from Tata had anything to do with their refusal to run Pandit’s account. Joseph further stated that the Wire ought to be questioned in this regard due to its ‘hypermoral’ positions regarding issues concerning women. No one from the Wire had issued a response at the time this report was written.
I normally will not ask an organisation why it is being practical but I will ask this question any outfit that has hypermoral positions and tries to tell others how they must cover issues concerning women.
— Manu Joseph (@manujosephsan) January 17, 2019
The Wire’s track record regarding sexual harassment issues has been extremely problematic despite its hyper-aggressive brand of feminism. In October, their consulting editor, Vinod Dua, was accused of stalking and sexual abuse by filmmaker Nishtha Jain. Soon after, another filmmaker had accused him of inappropriate behaviour.
On his part, Dua had claimed in a video that the accusations against him were not ‘real issues’ and that the women were indulging in mudslinging. Shockingly enough, it was the Wire that provided him with the platform for the video where he denigrated the alleged victims’ account of events. And despite the accuser’s wishes that Dua be fired so that a fair investigation could take place, the Wire continued to have him as their Consulting Editor.
Similarly, another journalist associated with The Wire, Akhil Kumar, who was accused of rape, was put back to work without offering any explanation. At least two women had accused Akhil Kumar of sexual assault and emotional harassment. However, The Wire had not issued any statement with regard to these allegations.
In the above cases, while the accused were associated with The Wire, the victims were not. However, The Wire’s history of dealing with harassment of their own employees has been questionable. Last year, The Wire journalist was allegedly heckled and manhandled while covering a story. Damayantee, who was on the receiving end of casteist abuses but the top bosses at The Wire asked her to let it go as a professional hazard because the perpetrators were Dalit and Leftist activists.