“ASHAs are being harassed and tortured by one Dr. Mehta. He sends us blue videos, naked pictures and calling on videos during night hours”
Despite a written representation of alleged sexual harassment, duly signed by over a dozen Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) workers, Health and Medical Education department has come up with a lame excuse that “they could not pursue the case because none of the complainant (alleged victims) has appeared before the committee so far”.
Talking to The Typewriter, Under Secretary to the Government, Health and Medical Education, Mohammad Iqbal Lone said that none of the complainant (alleged victims of sexual harassment) appeared before the chairperson of the Internal Complaint Committee (ICC) of H&ME department.
“The department tried to contact the complainants, who had lobbed allegations of sexual harassment against Dr. Jatinder Mehta (NHM), but unfortunately not even a single victim appeared before the chairperson,” Mr. Lone said and adding that sensing the gravity of the allegations, proper investigation has been initiated, but without appearance of victims before the committee and chairperson, this case cannot pursued further as of now.
He, however, said that the department is unable to identify the people whose names have been mentioned in the representation and general instructions have been issued, so that alleged victims may appear before the chairperson.
Meanwhile, a senior doctor, wishing anonymity alleged that the department is trying to hush-up the matter, because the doctor in question is politically significant.
“It’s been almost two months, since the complaint of sexual harassment has been filed by around twelve ASHA workers and I have read the excerpts of the complaint and further communication by the commissioner health and medical education,” said doctor, adding that they are deliberately delaying the matter by making lame excuse that they are unable to identify the complainants.
Senior doctor asserted that when the representation signed by the complainant reaches any office, the first priority should be to question the doctor, instead of hankering around for victims.
“On observing that women have been sexually harassed, highlighted the difficulty that prevails for a woman to say that she has been sexually harassed, the department and the committee should have taken suo motu cognizance of the issue,” said Doctor, adding that pointing an accusing finger at the alleged victim and blaming her for not appearing before the committee or chairperson is sham.
Following a complaint of alleged sexual harassment by twelve ASHA workers against the in-charge doctor, the government rolled in an inquiry and also constituted a committee under Satvir Kaur Sudan, Director General (P&S).
Government Health and Medical Education Department vide letter No HME/HRM/K/06/2020-I, dated 23-12-2020 has written a letter to Satvir Kaur Sudan, Director General (P&S), asking her to place the complaint of ASHAs Welfare Association against Dr Jatinder Mehta (NHM) Nagrota, J&K, Jammu before Internal Complaint Committee (ICC) of the H&ME Department, constituted vide G.O No. 818-JK (HME) of 2020 dated, 23-10-2020 read with G.No. 874-JK (HME) of 2020 dated 26-11-2020 for registering, enquiring and disposing of the same in terms of Sexual Harassment of Women at workplace (prevention, prohibition and redressal) Act, 2013.
In a complaint (Copy in possession of The Typewriter), aggrieved members of ASHAs Welfare Association lodged a complaint to the Commissioner Health and Medical Education Department Atal Dulloo and informed him about the sexual harassment by Dr Jatinder Mehta.
“ASHAs are being harassed and tortured by one Dr Mehta, who is ASHA incharge. He sends us blue videos, naked pictures and calling on videos during night hours,” read the complaint, adding “This matter was brought to the notice of seniors, but instead of taking action they threatened us of putting incentives on hold and even to terminate us.”
The complaint copy further reads that most of the ASHA workers are not coming out in open because of social stigma. They informed the commissioner through this complaint that the “accused” doctor even allegedly made video calls to them and started dancing naked.
Copy of the complaint has also been registered with the Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha and Chief Secretary, BVR Subrahmanyam.
When tried to contact Ms. Satvir Kour Sudan, Director General (P&S), Health and Medical Education Department, who happens to be the Chairperson of Internal Complaint Committee, she was unavailable despite repeated attempts. She even did not respond to a text message.