IndiaNewsNetwork.IN Bureau | 26th Sept 2015: Ending almost a month-long suspense drama on Facebook, and other social media, with allegations and posts flying fast and thick in all directions, the Women’s Police Station in Goa which has registered a case of sexual harassment against senior journalist Rupesh Samant, after taking cognizance of complaints filed by two women journalists alleging that he outraged their modesty, issued summons to him on Friday.
According to a report in the Herald, the Goa police have already registered an FIR under sections 354 and 354 A, both of which are cognizable and non-bailable. What is however surprising is the fact that the Goa police did not rush in to arrest the senior journalist, in spite of a month-long campaign on Facebook and other social media, with the Goa Union of Journalists and other activist-media persons playing an active role in highlighting the issue. The ‘victims’ were initially unwilling to speak up or complain in writing fearing that their careers would be destroyed as they argued that Samant was very ‘influential’ in Goan media circles.
Police Inspector Sudiksha Naik said that summons were issued to Samant to appear before the investigating officer on Friday evening, however he sought time till Saturday, the Herald reported.
According to the FIR registered on Thursday September 24, “A female journalist of local news channel registered an offence under Sections 354 and 354-A of IPC to the effect that since August 2012 till date at the news channel office, the accused Rupesh Samant, molested the complainant and passed sexually colored remarks and thereby outraged modesty of the complainant.” Both the sections are cognizable and non-bailable in nature.
According to IANS, the Superintendent of Police, Crime Branch, Kartik Kashyap, told reporters that an FIR under section 354A (related to sexual harassment) has been registered at the Women’s Police Station in Panaji.
According to the FIR, Rupesh Samant, Goa Bureau Chief of Press Trust of India (PTI) was accused of allegedly stalking the two victims, sending them vulgar messages via mobile phone and making sexual advances. This was done at Herald Cable Network (HCN), a local cable channel where the two journalists earlier worked.
Samant, according to information, also used to appear as a news anchor at the cable channel.
Samant was not reachable over the phone. The executive editor of PTI, V.S. Chandrasekar, at its head office in Delhi, told IANS that it “was a matter for the police to investigate.”
The Goa Union of Journalists said in a statement that Goa police should take the case to its logical conclusion. It demanded that the investigation into the alleged sexual harassment should “be expedited, without fear or favour.”
The state’s journalists’ body has also urged women victims to come forward if they have faced a similar situation at the workplace in media houses.
Samant declined to reply to any query stating he would give his statement to the investigating team.
In reply to another question about the possible arrest of the accused he replied, “You are asking the wrong person. Ask this question to the investigating officer.”
Responding to media questions, Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar said, “The law will take its own course.”
(with inputs from IANS)