by Mufti Islah
At a time when the #MeToo campaign has hit the Indian media and film industry and put several known names in the dock, a woman medico serving in Kashmir’s premier hospital has been punished for lodging a complaint against her colleague for alleged sexual misconduct and bullying.
The complainant, who did not wish to be identified, was removed from her parent Pharmacy department, apparently for pursuing her case before the women harassment committee of Sheri Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences or SKIMS, a reputed tertiary hospital of the state.
An inquiry committee set up to probe the allegations sat over the case for months before News18 picked up the issue with the administration last month.
Following media pressure, the inquiry was completed recently after the complainant, alleged harasser and witnesses deposed before the seven-member committee.
Dr Mudassir, convenor of the inquiry panel, said, “During the investigations, we did not find any merit in the complaint that the harassment was sexual in nature though something had happened there.”
Dr Mudassir refused to elaborate, saying the report has been submitted to SKIMS Medical superintendent Farooq Jan.
Refusing to share information about what was contained in the report, Farooq Jan told News18 he was following the orders of SKIMS director as per the inquiry panel recommendations.
The panel has recommended that both the complainant and the accused be transferred out.
When asked if it meant that the complainant was at fault, he said, “I cannot say much. This is what is contained in the report. The panel has recommended action against both,” he added.
SKIMS Director Dr Omar Javeed Shah said he has no idea about the contents of the report. “We have to follow the system. The complainant is a fine researcher and we have put her at the right place,” he said.
The complainant, however, said she was shocked to see her name and harasser in the same transfer order, which clearly suggested that “it was the victim who has been actually punished”.
She alleged that SKIMS higher officials had come under the harasser’s pressure because he is a key member of the hospital employees union.
“I have been transferred out means they have held me guilty,” she said.
Dr Shah agreed the orders should have been separate. “I am entangled in different issues of the administration,” he said, adding I cannot comment much on this case.
The complainant said this was against the Vishaka committee guidelines which clearly recommends that accused should be shifted from the department the day the complaint was received.
“No women employee in SKIMS will now dare to complain against her male colleague who crosses a line, And that does not augur well for women harassment cases,” said the complainant.
(Mufti Islah, a senior Srinagar based journalist works for News 18. The story appeared on the TV’s news website, first.)