The editors of the news publication, The Wire, on Saturday ‘unreservedly’ apologised for the manner in which allegations of sexual harassment against Vinod Dua were ‘trivialised’ in the last episode of his video show, ‘Jan Gan Man ki Baat’.
This came after Dua, one of The Wire’s consulting editors, went on his show to ‘mock’ the #MeToo movement after being accused of sexual harassment and stalking by filmmaker Nishtha Jain.
Notably, Dua was already under an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) investigation initiated by The Wire to look into the allegations against him, when the 318th episode was published on Tuesday, 16 October.
Dua, using the show as a medium, had set the platform for his own defence and dismissed the allegations against him as ‘muck’.
To this, the statement released by the editors – Siddharth Varadarajan, Sidharth Bhatia and MK Venu – said: ‘Dua is within his rights as a person accused of sexual harassment to say the accusation is false and to characterise it any way he wishes’.
However, the statement added that Dua’s views ‘runs totally counter to The Wire’s editorial position’. The statement said that it would be unfair and inaccurate to suggest that the #MeToo movement in general is about mudslinging (as suggested by Dua).
The news portal issued the apology after a number of questions were raised by ‘readers, well-wishers, The Wire‘s public editor and colleagues at The Wire’ about the handling of the allegations against Dua.
The Wire’s support for the MeToo movement is clear from its continuing reportage and its editorial, the statement said.
"‘His (Dua’s) programme went up without any editorial filter and it was a major failure of oversight at our end. Some comments he made at the start of the programme about the #MeToo movement as a diversion were edited out later, as soon as they were brought to our notice’." - The Wire’s editors in the apology
Dua, in his show, had also said that the allegations made against him do not amount to sexual harassment but just harassment (‘pareshaani’).
Responding to this, the editors said that there is no doubt that it is an allegation of conduct that falls within the broad rubric of “sexual harassment”.
That is why the headline and contents of The Wire’s report on Ms Jain’s allegation, ‘Filmmaker Accuses Vinod Dua of Sexually Harassing, Stalking Her in 1989 Incident’, make this clear, the statement said.
“The Wire’s editors unreservedly apologise for the manner in which the allegation was mischaracterised and trivialised in the last episode of ‘Jan Gan Man ki Baat’,” the statement also said.
Allegations Against Dua
Jain had accused Dua of “slobbering all over her face” on 14 October, 1989, in his car in her office’s parking area. She also alleged that Dua stalked her in the following days.
It was June 1989. I still remember the day because it was my birthday. There was extended family at home and mom was...Posted by Nishtha Jain on Saturday, October 13, 2018
Jain Questions Dua’s Response, Slams The Wire
Reacting to the journalist’s video, Jain had questioned The Wire for providing him a platform to defend himself, when it is an ongoing investigation.
In the statement published on Facebook, Jain also asked how an accused can be a judge in his own case.
I'm forced to return to Facebook as people pointed out this episode of Jan Gan Man Ki Baat which was aired this morning....Posted by Nishtha Jain on Wednesday, October 17, 2018
The Wire has since established an independent, external committee headed by a former judge of the Supreme Court, Aftab Alam, to investigate the allegation of sexual harassment levelled against Dua.
The reason the committee is an external one is because the alleged incident dates back to 1989, when The Wire did not exist, the news portal said in a statement.
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