Just when we thought the #MeToo momentum had died down in India, a new name has come to light again. The story has been published in November 2018 edition of The Caravan.
Gaurav Sawant, Executive Editor at India Today, has been accused of sexually harassing and assaulting journalist Vidya Krishnan during their professional association in early 2000s. Krishnan has narrated her ordeal that she experienced while on a work trip to Beas in 2003 with Sawant.
A special issue of The Caravan: How Vijay Nair's Only Much Louder failed the women in its ranks; Eleven women speak out against Jatin Das's sexual misconduct; A journalist accuses primetime anchor Gaurav Sawant of sexual assault.#MeTooIndia #TimesUp pic.twitter.com/zXNEYuYv9K
— The Caravan (@thecaravanindia) November 12, 2018
The report says that Krishnan was a young journalist in 2003. She was keen to make her mark in the field of journalism. She got hired by The Pioneer then and her first assignment was to cover a peacetime drill in a military station at Beas. She was also to be accompanied by senior journalists, one of them being Sawant.
The current India Today editor was looked upon as a role model by many juniors as he had a spark of encouragement whenever he addressed his junior colleagues. A batchmate of Krishnan quoted,
“We used to get a lot of these boring, old lecturers, and suddenly this young guy came so there was a bit of talk around that.”
As per the report in The Caravan, Krishnan was sexually harassed and assaulted by Gaurav through her journey to Beas. It further adds, that Krishnan never imagined such a breakthrough in her career, especially from someone like Sawant who she considered as a guru or a teacher figure.
It is alleged that Sawant placed his right hand on her should which Krishnan had found it very uncomfortable. She had let it pass as an accident initially. Vidya tried to move away readjusting her position away from Gaurav since she thought she had misconstrued the situation. However, she said she was shocked when Sawant shifted his hand from her shoulder to her breast. Krishnan added that,
“My body was frozen still, I didn’t have the confidence to say anything.”
It did not end there. As per Vidya, Sawant even dared to text message her the same night asking her to come to his room. He kept emphasising that he had ‘nothing naughty’ in his mind but just wanted to get into a bathtub with her.
After Vidya politely declined, Sawant came knocking on her door. She said, on opening the door, he let himself in. She kept fearing that she might have to end up doing what Gaurav wanted and that she had lost her confidence of taking a stand and saying a No.
She further makes a shocking statement, that barely a few minutes after entering her room and talking with her, Gaurav unzipped his pants and forced her hand towards his penis. He did not back off despite Vidya making her uneasiness apparent to him.
“I felt like he was overpowering me, which is why in my panic I started screaming …I think there was some sense of decency where he was like, ‘Okay, I can’t rape her’, so he went away at that point,” she added.
Krishnan ends her story by clarifying that her calling out Sawant for what he did to her is entirely about her being at peace with herself and did not have any other motive.
Sawant is yet to respond to The Caravan’s emails seeking his responses to the allegations. There is no comment either on his twitter handle yet.
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