New Delhi: A charge sheet was filed on Friday in the Congress sexual harassment case, in which a former party worker had accused the right-hand man of social media chief Divya Spandana of molestation at workplace. She had also alleged that Spandana had not taken any action, but instead had “mentally harassed” her.

MyNation was the first to report this case and now a Delhi court on Friday took cognisance of the case and issued summons to the accused Chirag Patnaik. The court directed him to appear before it on February 2, 2019.

Patnaik was arrested this July after MyNation’s crusade in the matter and the victim Nausheen Haider (name changed) giving this website an exclusive interview in which she recalled the ordeal she was allegedly put through by Patnaik and Spandana at the Congress’s social media office on Gurudwara Rakabganj Road.

Patnaik was, however, given bail within a matter of minutes. The victim revealed exclusively to MyNation that the charges slapped on Patnaik had been kept “soft”, as alleged by her lawyer.

Haider had revealed that she had complained to the party high command too, including president Rahul Gandhi, but to no avail.

The accusations

Haider, who lodged a formal complaint with Delhi Police commissioner Amulya Patnaik detailing the circumstances of the alleged molestation on June 11, is from the minority community.

The victim had brought serious sexual harassment charges against Spandana’s aide Patnaik, undermining Rahul’s repeated proclamations on how the Congress stood for women empowerment. The victim had accused Spandana of professional harassment.

An FIR has been registered in this connection. Haider had also sent a detailed letter to Rahul and AICC grievance cell chairperson Archana Dalmia on June 28.

“While I was busy concentrating on my computer screen, Mr Patnaik encircled me from behind in a manner most immoral, pretending to check the tweets,” she wrote.

Haider continued, “He also exhaled into my breathing space whenever he encircled me — an act that was absolutely disgusting and immoral. He also tapped on my hands and shoulders, an act that was totally unnecessary and made me extremely uncomfortable.

“Mr Patnaik and I sat beside each other in the office at a distance of approximately 1.2 metres. Between us was an extended platform of drawers which he would rest his legs upon, pointing his shoes at me in a manner most disgraceful and disrespectful... I also found his gazing at the contours of my body very violating and hurtful. It was almost a daily ordeal for me.”

According to Haider, she had brought this to Spandana’s notice, but to no avail.

The victim further explained, “Since he had the power to get anyone fired from the office, I tolerated his behaviour initially, out of the fear of losing my job. However, towards the end of my tenure, even on May 22, I made several verbal and non-verbal communication of a strong disapproval of his misbehaviour [sic].”

Haider had joined the social media cell of the Congress on the March 5. She was hired as 'social media manager' and was given the responsibility of running the official Twitter account of the Indian National Congress (@INCIndia) and its communications handle (@INCSandesh).

Haider reported directly to Spandana and her work involved coordination with Patnaik, “who also manages the office”. 

“My fight is a fight between a person (me) and the department (social media department of the Congress). It is not a fight between me and the party. I want those responsible punished. The onus is now on the high command (of the Congress),” the victim told MyNation. 

Haider also accused Spandana of mental harassment after she had brought the matter to her notice. “I tried to complain to Divya about his behaviour on May 14. However, she refused to listen to my complaint and diverted the topic to my work performance instead,” she wrote.

“The period between May 17 and May 24 was marked with mental harassment. Despite knowing I was disturbed, Miss Spandana did not correct her behaviour towards me. She humiliated me with insulting work-related messages on the office group for no fault of mine. My professionalism and manners were also questioned. I broke down inconsolably on the May 23 and never returned to the office,” she added.

According to the victim, since the “general protocol was that she would run the official tweets by him before posting them”, Patnaik allegedly misused his position to sexually harass her.