Wednesday, 24 November 2004
For about three years trial in criminal case has gone on and it is now posted for orders. However, days before orders could be passed Mr. Swarnam Natarajan, Magistrate of JM I, Pondicherry, has visited the Ashram with Matripasad and others. In fact he has just got married and Matriprasad and some trustees attended the reception so we were told by some invitees. So we know that Mr. S. Natarajan has been compromised. On 17.11.2004 letters written by ashramites Nirmal Swain, Saumya Bableswar and one local called Krishnan were published by ‘The Hindu’ to the effect that no criminal cases are pending against the trustees of Ashram. We are absolutely sure of the outcome of the criminal case.
On 18.11.2004 two criminal cases are posted for hearing. My criminal gets adjourned to 23.11.2004. In Mr. PP Raghavachary’s (who was intially trustees’ lawyer) criminal case filed against the trustees for housebreaking, illegal trespass etc, accused trustees are supposed to appear and so the court premises is packed with media and reporters, in spite of the wrong information given by ‘The Hindu’.
Then on 23.11.2004 Jayashree and myself were present in the court in the morning. Mr. Swarnam Natarajan makes a huge show of rendering justice. He told the accused trustees to settle the matter out of court with me and report settlement by the same afternoon otherwise he will punish them. Case gets posted to the afternoon. In the afternoon Mr. Cyril Vincent, our lawyer, Jayashree and myself were present. When my case was called Mr. Swarnam Natarajan pretended as if no directions were given in the morning and simply acquitted all the accused in my case.
A complete volte-face. Why? Rumor has it he received his second dowry from the trustees, reaching comfortably into 7 zeroes.
Thursday, 14 October 2004
In spite of the FIR registered by the police and the arrest of Girish Panda, who had been let out on bail on the surety given by a trustee as reported in the newspaper, our sexual harassment continued.
On 13.10.2014 at about 5.00 p.m. Rajyashri, Nivedita and myself received fresh pornographic cartoons and there was urine everywhere around our rooms. We called the police because they wanted to collect the evidence by themselves and they also took statement from witnesses. Matriprasad, Prabhakar Rupanagunta @ Batti, Purushottam Kothari, Prabhu Dayal Jena and others, were not only stopping the resident-inmates of Ambabhiskshu House from entering but also requesting inmates to leave the premises so that the police could not question them. Only their chosen inmates like Vishwanathan and Ushma, an unmarried couple, came forward to misdirect the police and interfere with their investigation. Anyway the police collected all the evidence, took videos, photos and statements of those present and left.
The police also had a summon for Arunashri in the case filed for the FIR No.213/2004 which was for asking her to present the pornographic chits received by her to the police. But they told her not to come since they had already collected enough evidence and fresh pornographic chits. The originals of 5 pornographic chits received by us are still available with us and 3 are with the police.
Wednesday, 6 October 2004
We sent our complaint to NCW, New Delhi, through RPAD, because there was no State Commission either of NCW or of NHRC at Pondicherry.
Mrs. Poornima Advani, Chairperson of NCW, New Delhi, has come to Pondicherry in the first week of October to form the State Women’s Commission at Pondicherry (SWC). Our lawyers, Mrs. V. Usha and Mr. Cyril Vincent, managed to get an appointment with her on 05.10.2004. We five sisters met Mrs. Poornima Advani at Hotel Annamalai International at about 2.30 pm. Our lawyers presented our case and Mrs. Advani was shocked at the situation prevailing in the Ashram (also check link http://ncw.nic.in/pdfReports/Gender_Profile_Pondicherry.pdf) and she said that our condition was worse than bonded laborers.
The same evening State Women Commission at Pondicherry (SWC), was inaugurated and Mrs. S. Kamalini was appointed as its first Chairperson. Our complaint dated 06.08.2004 sent by RPAD to NCW was handed over to SWC and investigation has been ordered.
We really hope to get justice and pray that now the sexual harassment faced by us will stop.
Sunday, 19 September 2004
On 04.08.2004 Arunashri wrote a letter to Managing Trustee informing him about the molestation and their failure to protect her. She then sent a complaint on 05.08.2004 to the Pondicherry Police through RPAD. This complaint has been totally denied by the police but we have A/D Card to prove that the police did receive this complaint but failed to act. All of us were being continually harassed and even our various possessions like cycle, footwear and door locks were being broken, damaged and tampered with on a day-to-day basis. We were totally traumatized yet the SP North of Pondicherry one Firoz Zia Hussain, failed to act in spite of repeated oral complaints and visits to the police station requesting for relief.
It is an open secret that the trustees pay hafta to the Pondicherry Police and many of them regularly visit the Trust Office for personal gains.
On 16.09.2004 Arunashri’s room had been tied with wire and rope. She went with Jayashree to the police station and did not budge till they had taken down her complaint and registered an FIR. They were made to wait in the police station till 9.00 p.m. by SHO Varadarajan. Her complaint on which FIR No.213/2004 was registered on 17.09.2004 had been dictated by the police to suit their convenience and unfortunately it did not contain all the grievances of Arunashri.
Wednesday, 4 August 2004
From May 2004 Jayashree Prasad and Arunashri Prasad started facing sexual harassment. The harassment was masterminded by Nirmal Chandra Swain, the inmate advocate who got his degree through dubious means so it is rumored. His co-conspirators were Girish Panda, Santosh Nayak, Krishna Chandra, Shankar@Sajjal Mitra etc. It was the same group of men who were responsible for assaulting Jayashree on 09.01.2001.
The sexual harassment by these men began at first by urinating in from of their rooms, many times during the day and also by passing vulgar comments and making vulgar gestures and sending pornographic cartoons. Later other sisters were also made victims. On 13.06.2004 Jayashree and Arunashri complained before the Bar Association at Pondicherry since it involved a lawyer and the President of the Bar Mr. Bhaktavachalam, who was appearing for the trustees in my criminal case, requested the trustees to stop this indignity. However his advice was not followed. Over many weeks repeated requests were made but to no avail.
On 26.07.2004 we five sisters met the trustees during their Trust Board meeting and they denied having received any complaint from us. In fact Dilip Datta (Trustee) and Manoj Das (Managing Trustee) Gupta suggested that it was the work of an artist on seeing the pornographic cartoons and he also commented that these men were saints and were leading a pious life. He was trying to hint at two things – (1) Arunashri is an artist and that she was the one doing these drawings and (2) that we sisters were not leading pious lives because we were protesting against their mal-administration and had many cases filed and pending against the trustees including criminal case for defamation.
Then on 03.08.2004 Chandramani Patel, who is Arunashri’s neighbor, tried to molest her. She somehow escaped and ran to Jayashree’s room and spent the night trembling with fright.
Monday, 26 July 2004
After facing about 2 months of harassment, after giving written complaints to Mr. Bhaktavachalam and Mr. Uday Bhaskar (trustees’ lawyers and office bearers of Bar Association, Pondicherry) and approaching the Ashram trustees through them, today we were finally constrained to personally take our complaints to the trustees during their Trust Board meeting and voice our grievance.
All the five trustees of Ashram viz. Manoj Das Gutpa, Dilip Datta, Albert Patel @ Avinash, Prabhakar Rupanagunta @ Batti and Veda Prakash Johar, the advisory members viz. Chirta Sen, Vishweshwar Dundur, along with Matriparasad, Purushottam Iyengar, were present during our meeting with the Trust Board of Ashram.
At first the trustees did not want to hear us out because of the various already pending litigations between us. They even asked us to move the court of law instead of approaching them. They did not wish to see the pornographic chits received by us. The only person who seemed inclined to listen to us was Veda Prakash Johar. Perhaps he realized what a mistake he had made by not coming forward to help Jayashree when she was assaulted.
The only woman there, Chitra Sen, exclaimed that if she saw these chits it would affect her modesty, therefore she desisted. Being a 70+ old lady when she felt threatened by merely looking at the chits, imagine our condition, and we replied her to this effect.
Manoj Das Gupta, Dilip Datta and Matriprasad observed that it was a work of an artist. (you can judge for yourself, chits are attached). This remark was aimed at Arunashri who is an artist and who was the first one to receive these pornographic cartoons. Arunashri told them unequivocally that if it was the work of an artist then all present should frame these works of art and put them in their drawing room in appreciation. Since the trustees found these drawings to be so beautiful we even suggested that these pornographic chits should be framed and put in prominent places of the Ashram for public viewing.
Manoj Das Gupta and Dilip Datta even commented that these men were sadhaks and could not do such things. Are we to take it to mean that we are not sadhaks? In fact, if my memory serves me right, Manoj Das Gupta is a known womanizer who maintains and entertains a harem full of women, his queen being Manjushri Chatterjee who attempted suicide when he tried to leave her. He cannot see a beautiful woman and talk to her without touching her. His well-known spicy exploits are legendary. When he is the one setting the trend for the male-inmates of Ashram, should one really not laugh at his blatant partiality towards his henchmen?
In fact as 22.07.2004 when Nivedita received the first pornographic chit carrying the initials G+N where Girish expressed his desire for her, she went to meet Manoj Das at about10.30 pm. (Padmashri Awardee inmate, ex-trustee of Ashram Trust, present Trustee of Ashram Udyog Trust, known Indian writer). He outright told her that she should not expect either the trustees or him to help her since she has filed cases against the trustees.