Dropped harassment charges, Cong chief back to key post | Latest India News

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When the Congress party appointed a secretary to oversee the main northeastern states of Tripura, Nagaland and Sikkim last week, they reopened a sexual harassment case they said was dealt with last year. .

Ranajit Mukherjee, 41, resigned in 2020 after an internal investigation was carried out by former member of Rajya Sabha Rajeev Gowda, head of the research department of the party of which Mukherjee was a member.

The investigation came after a member of the National Student Union of India (NSUI), the student wing of the party, complained about him in writing, and another colleague from the research department reported “inappropriate behavior” during Rajasthan’s 2018 parliamentary elections.

After Mukherjee’s recent appointment, women have raised questions about the appropriateness of assigning him a key leadership role. Although the Congress party did not respond, Mukherjee told HT that he had been punished long enough and that the party recognized the hard work he had done since.

“I had a consensual relationship after being separated from my wife. This affair exploded in 2019-2020. I voluntarily quit and opened up to my family, and this led to my divorce this year. The party acknowledged that I had made an error in judgment, “he said.” I was kept out of a party position for over a year. I worked diligently and the party recognized my work and gave me responsibilities. I cannot be punished forever. ”

The two women, however, told HT that the party erred in giving Mukherjee a supervisory role as his behavior showed a trend.

“There are others besides me who have fallen prey and can testify to it,” wrote the main complainant on Friday in an email to party leaders, including Rahul Gandhi. “I have been silent because I don’t want our political opponents to hurt the Congress party by using this as a tool. The appointment of a proven sexual predator would only harm the Congress party … please follow the official process and remove him from his post. ”

Although there was no response to Friday’s letter, Gowda sent an email on July 24 of last year, acknowledging that he accepted Mukherjee’s resignation after his allegations. “An internal investigation has been carried out,” the email said. “His resignation has been accepted and he is no longer secretary of the AICC department as of today.”

When contacted, Gowda said: “If such matters arise, they are dealt with in an appropriate and fair manner to the satisfaction of the complainant. “

The second woman, who worked in the research department, told HT that Mukherjee traveled with her to Rajasthan on festive work. “He always made me uncomfortable, but then he got drunk and knocked on my door late at night,” she said.

Although she did not file a formal complaint, she brought it to Gowda’s attention. She described Mukherjee as a “predator”.

Mukherjee boss Ajoy Kumar told HT he was holding back from assigning him work. “I have been made aware of this, and therefore no work will be awarded until the issue is resolved,” Kumar said.

A defendant in a sexual harassment case could be reinstated, but that depended on the particular case and the findings of the board of inquiry, according to Vrinda Grover, a lawyer and expert in sexual harassment cases.

“After investigation, what was the punishment? Did they say it was only for a year? It depends on the nature of the case and the penalty should be proportional to that, ”she said. “Due diligence requires that they don’t give them a supervisory position, but you can give them a position after an exam. “

In this particular case, details of the length of time the Board of Inquiry removed him from his post were not disclosed, even to the complainants.

Mukherjee was also Lok Sabha’s candidate for the Bardhaman-Durgapur constituency party in West Bengal in 2019.

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