Female tutor deputed at nursing college, Kulgam alleges sexual harassment at workplace

KULGAM — A female tutor deputed in Kulgam has alleged sexual harassment by officials at her workplace in a nursing college (GNM) in south Kashmir district. The woman has written to several higher officials in the local administration urging them to take strict action against the accused employees.

In her complaint, the female teacher has alleged that the accused employee used to pass sexual and offensive comments.

In a copy of the complaint written to the higher authorities, which was accessed by The Kashmiriyat, she has said, “I warned him repeatedly but he didn’t mend his behavior.”

Narrating her ordeal to The Kashmiriyat she said that the employee who is also an official of the Health Department used his position to harass her. She alleged that he sent her sexual messages over WhatsApp for quite some time. “The accused employee initially harassed my sister. Refusing to believe her, I initially scolded my sister that she should not level such serious allegations against an official,” the complaint said.

“I had no idea about what was happening to my sister at the workplace. Then he (the accused) also started harassing me,” alleged the victim’s sister, adding, “He started sending me sexual messages over WhatsApp and passing abusive comments, which became a routine over time. Though I asked him to stop, he did not. We had been facing harassment for over a year but nobody paid any heed to the pleas. “We had already filed complaints to many authorities including DC Kulgam and LG Manoj Sinha,” she told The Kashmiriyat.

Leveling serious allegations against the employee, she said that the accused employee indulged in private and long conversations with young girls and also stopped them from saying anything to a particular set of female students over uniform and other disciplinary issues, she told The Kashmiriyat.

The complainant said that nobody dared speak against the employee considering that he was also close to the CMO Kulgam, who happens to be the in-charge of the nursing college, adding that the CMO defended the accused Government employee. She said that after she filed the complaint, the CMO has been avenging by either fiddling with her rosters or making her work for extra days.

She said that they had approached DC Kulgam, who took action within 24 hours and reshuffled staff, “but the harassment didn’t end,” she alleged. She said that it was difficult for her to take a back seat being the elder sister, given her younger sister was traumatized. She also alleged that her sister (the complainant) was scared, disturbed and depressed, and that at first, she was not even willing to report the incident.

“On Woman’s Day, my sister mustered some courage and lodged a complaint with the women’s cell,” she added.

When The Kashmiriyat spoke to Mohammed Rafiq Dhobi, CMO Kulgam about the allegations, he said that the complainant is a staff nurse in the District Hospital in National Health Mission, who was deputed to GNM school by former CMO Kulgam as a tutor, given her qualification. “Basically, she is not a tutor but a staff sister.”

“We had already submitted a report to DC Kulgam after he constituted a committee of five members, in response to her complaint. The committee included the DHO, District Accounts Manager, Data Manager, DMO, and District Manager,” he said.

Dhobi said that DC Kulgam had ordered to reshuffle those employees since they were not permanent employees of GNM. They were on internal arrangements. Dhobi said, “The truth is she wanted to get transferred to GNM again.”

Dhobi exclaimed that the complainant was ‘equally responsible,’ pointing towards the WhatsApp conversation she had mentioned about. “DC Sahab also told her that if she would approach somebody like this, what will the other person do,” he added.

He said that action was taken following the complaint. “About 4 or 5 days ago, the staff held responsible was removed from the hospital,” he said. When the CMO was asked about his being close to the accused, he said, “If I was shielding him, he wouldn’t have been sent to the other place.”

“We are not favouring anyone but she has disturbed the overall environment there and also went to extremes,” Dhobi said while speaking to The Kashmiriyat over the phone.

“All we want is that the harassment at workplaces against the female staff comes to an end and that the officials stop using their position to harass women,” the sister of the complainant stated.

— (The Kashmiriyat)