Thursday, 20 January 2005

Enquiry Not Conducted by SWC, Pondicherry

We are thoroughly disillusioned. Yesterday, without conducting any enquiry, Mrs. Advani and Mrs. Kamalini have given out statements to the effect that a report has been given by SCW to NCW finding our complaints of sexual harassment to be false. But they have also given a most revealing direction through the newspapers that men and women in the Ashram should be segregated!

This is what has actually happened since Mrs. Poornima Advani has ordered investigation for our complaint to SWC, Pondicherry.

Due to threats of rape and more sexual harassment, we had given a complaint dated 11.10.2004 to police asking for help and protection. Thereafter on 13.10.2004 police came to Ambabhikshu House, (See posting dated 14.10.2004) and police took evidence of our sexual harassment and three pornographic chits.

Thereafter we gave a written representation to SWC about our sexual harassment, reiterating the contents of our complaint dated 06.08.2004, after having added subsequent harassment. On 20.12.2004 we were orally called, for the first and only time, by Mrs. Kamalini at SWC Office. She alone was present when we made our representations, not one office staff was present when we had been called. None of the other members of the commission were aware that we were being enquired into. Mrs. Kamalini told us that she would treat our complaint as our deposition and would call us as and when the enquiry proceedings required our presence.

We had seen jeep-loads of women being ferried by Prafulla Patel, Purushottam Iyengar, Kannan, Nirmal Swain and others. We have subsequently come to know that they were all being taken to the Office of SWC. But we have never been called again for the enquiry proceedings till date and yesterday we saw this news item in 'The Hindu'.

We came to know through the news-item that some questionnaire had been circulated by SWC to inmates. However we were never furnished a copy of it. Therefore it would be pertinent to ponder what was the role played by these jeep-loads of women when we had made our complaint against few inmates only!

The suggestion of segregating men and women clearly indicates that there is a big problem and yet how the chairpersons, without conducting a proper enquiry, have come to the conclusion that our cases are false is anybody’s guess.