Sunday, November 29, 2020 1:27:32 PM

DAK in soup for running character assassination campaign against sexual harassment victim

News Desk
Tuesday, November 17, 2020


Srinagar, Nov 17

As the government ordered an inquiry against Director Health Kashmir Samir Mattoo after a lady doctor accused him of sexual harassment, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) have issued multiple statements in favor of the director in violation of Vishaka guidelines against sexual harassment cases at workplaces, reported news agency KDC. A female consultant (name withheld) filed a complaint on April 28, before Chief Secretary BVR Subramanayam that Mattoo had sexually harassed her after she dropped her late evening call. The Complainant has alleged that Mattoo called her on December 13, 2019 and made sexual remarks on the phone call.

There was no response from the Chief Secretary’s office until today despite many reminders. However, soon after new lieutenant governor Manoj Joshi took over, the victim approached him with a complaint that Mattoo was harassing her. The victim said she was selected as consultant WHO but was not allowed to join by Mattoo. She even applied for the post of registrar at Government Medical College, Srinagar but was again denied the required NOC to attend the interview. “I wanted to take up consultant WHO and registrar jobs at half of my salary to escape the harassment but Mattoo along with his friends in the Health department were blocking all the ways. They wanted to destroy my career,” the senior consultant has said in her complaint.

Despite being eligible for assistant director post for the past six years, she was stripped off all the positions and transferred to Kangan sub-district hospital earlier this month. Lt Governor Manoj Sinha’s office took cognizance of the complaint and on October 20 asked Financial Commissioner Health and Medical Education Atal Dulloo to get the matter enquired within seven days. “A transfer order has been issued to put the complainant at disadvantage which is the result of personal vendetta by Director Health Kashmir Samir Mattoo. The transfer orders referred supra are therefore be stayed/rescinded ab-initio. Further an enquiry be got conducted in a time bound manner to ascertain the veracity of the allegations leveled in the complaint and report within seven days,” reads the order issued by Nitishwar Kumar Principal Secretary to Sinha, according to news agency KDC.

The government on October 23, issued an order under section 4 (1) of the sexual harassment of women at workplace (prevention, prohibition and redressal) Act, 2013 to probe the case. The government formed a committee comprising Director General Health Services, Satvir Kour Sudan, Principal Government Medical College Srinagar, Dr. Saima Rashid, Director Health Services Jammu, and Dr Renu Sharma. Following the enquiry, doctors have joined together to defend the accused director without waiting for the committee’s report. The doctors associated with the DAK-led by Dr Suhail Naik who are also holding important positions in the health department are running a smear campaign against the victim and called Mattoo an upright doctor.

Even health officials including the head of the grievance cell in the health department Dr Naheed Anjum has written multiple posts on social media to shame the victim. As per reports others who joined the campaign to give clean chit to the Director much before enquiry has concluded are DAK president Suhail Naik, General Secretary Owais Dar, and executive members Masood Rashid, Mir Mushtaq, Irfan Shams, Arshad Trag, Imtiyaz Banday, Arifa Amin, and subordinate officers of directorate of health services Dr Qazi Haroon, Grievance Cell head Dr Naheed Anjum, Dr Nishat Shaheen, and Dr Shafkat Rasool. “This is a classic case of an officer using his influence on subordinates to influence an enquiry against him. And this is the reason that an officer against whom an enquiry is pending should be suspended.

He exerts influence over his subordinates when in chair. They should have suspended him pending the outcome of enquiry,” a senior female doctor posted at SKIMS told KDC. Supreme Court has defined the behavior which constitutes sexual harassment under Vishaka guidelines as sexually determined physical contact and advances; a demand or request for sexual favors; sexually colored remarks; showing pornography; and any other unwelcome physical verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature. The criminal proceedings of Vishaka guidelines read: “Employer should ensure that victims or witnesses are not victimized or discriminated against while dealing with complaints of sexual harassment. The victims of sexual harassment should have the option to seek the transfer of the perpetrator or their own transfer.” (KDC)