Tuesday, 26 August 2008


This is the concluding part of Augusto Pinto's piece on the Herald sexual harassment case. We've put up those numbers again guys, at the bottom of the post. Just heard that Herald MD Raul Fernandes is back in Goa. If you guys want to ensure a fair trial, call any of these numbers up and remind these guys about their responsibility.

The Herald Sexual Harassment Case:
Here Is The Connection In The Form Of A Few Comments, Predictions And Advice.

1] Like V.R.Naik, Manjunath will avoid appearing before the G.S.C.W. This puts all the burden of facing the tension of appearing before this Commission upon the victim and witnesses on her behalf.
2] If the victim is lucky, and has at least some deal of support from her colleagues, just as in the V.R.Naik case, the management may just capitulate
and agree to setting up a Vishaka Committee. The idea will not be to settle the issue, but to further buy time that way.
3] The victim in he Herald case should be ever vigilant to ensure that she or those who will testify on her behalf, do not have anything to do with any in-house enquiry committee that may be appointed - again to obfuscate matters.
They should make sure that only a properly constituted Vishaka Commiittee does the enquiry. This is all the more imperative as there sems to be prima facie another case against one of the owners of Herald.

4] The victim has to face the additional tension of dealing with a defamation case. Just as in then V.R.Naik case. This helps to scare away witnesses who do not want to have to deal with law courts. There may also be the possibility for the accused to stall matters which are going on, by claiming that the matters are sub-juidice.
This might happen if the case is dealt with by a judge who is not sufficiently well-versed with the matter.
Conclusion: The chances are great that the victim will be exhausted by all the burden she has to face and will settle out of court or even withdraw or worse still apologize.
Regards Augusto
P.S.: A couple of weeks before the Herald story broke, but almost certainly when the incidents of sexual harassment against the Herald victim had talready aken place, HCN aired a debate about, hold your breath - SEXUAL HARASSMENT - in a program called CROSSFIRE.
Pramod Salgaocar was on that programme, but so was - hold your breath - V.R.Naik. No mention was made that V.R. was indicted by the G.S.C.W. or the Dempo College Vishaka Committee.

The staff of Dempo College was incensed about this and went to protest at the Herald office. Nissar Dias was not in the office. We were put on the phone to the producer of the program, a glib talking chap called Junio D'Souza, whose defence was that he had no idea about the background of V.R.Naik!!.
This of course was nonsense, and we then went to Ashwin Tombat, who again tried to protest that he had no idea about what was happening at HCN and that he had no idea about the press note in his paper regarding the program!!


Raul Fernandes 9822100188 (Herald MD and owner)
Oswald Fernandes 9823013308 (MD Raul's brother)
Manjunath 9822130034 (Herald GM)
Nissar 9422437029 (Editor HCN, that's where the victim was employed)
Michael 9822122304 (MD Raul's PA)
Ashwin Tombat 0832-2433373 (Herald Editor, direct line)
Ashwin Tombat 9421246332 (Herald Editor, mobile)
Herald board numbers 0091-832-2224202,2224460,2228083
Sunita 9881099260 (President Goa Union of Journalists)
Dr Pramod Salgaonkar 9822123050 (Chairperson, Goa Commission for Women)

Monday, 25 August 2008


Hey guys, we've received a well articulated piece on the Herald sexual harassment issue from Mr Augusto Pinto, who has seen a similar case involving Dempo college principal Dr Vaman Naik from close quarters. We are running his piece in two parts. This is the first one. Those who wish to comment on this piece will have have to either lend their names to their piece, or better still send us a response from their genuine email IDs, since the writer has stuck his neck out to state his point. Anonymous comments against the writer will not be approved.

History repeats itself. I wonder if Manjunath is getting lessons from V. R. Naik. To understand what I say, you will have to listen to a story which I have told before, but as it does not seem to register with people, I am ready to repeat it again and again and again
At the very start of the Dempo College case, V.R.Naik was asked to refrain from his acts of sexually harassing a young married college lecturer, not just by her but by many of her colleagues who could not bear to see what was going on.
He would not listen. And on the contrary, in an arrogant display of power, he went and terminated her services, and those of two other colleagues who supported her.
After finally gathering courage she agreed to face public scrutiny, [Remember - going public is the worst punishment for the victim in such cases. Society has the nasty habit of casting aspersions on the victim -"She must have done something to encourage him" - they say],
An Action Committee of prominent citizens came to her support, led by among others Adv. Avinash Bhosale, and Adv. Meera Merdhekar. They went to the press giving all the details of his foul deeds.
The Goa State Commission for Women held an enquiry, and indicted Vaman Naik, saying he was not fit to hold the post of a Principal. Although V.R. Naik responded to the Commission once, he then began to avoid them. Not a single staff member from the college said a word in his favour. The G.S.C.W. submitted a report which severely indicted V.R.Naik, saying he was not fit to hold the post of a Principal of a College. The problem is that the G.S.C.W. although it is a Statutory Body having much moral clout, is one which has only recommendatory authority.
The real authority which can prescribe punishment on a sexual harassment offender, the Supreme Court of India has ruled, is the Vishaka Committee. After a considerable amount of pressure was mounted on the management of the College, the Governing Body of Dempo Charities' Trust, to abide by the law of the land, a Vishaka Committee was finally appointed by the Acting Principal of the college, Dr. Deshpande of Dhempe College of Arts and Science, Miramar.
This Vishaka Committee again, and in no uncertain terms indicted V. R. Naik. V.R.Naik's fate should have been sealed at this point.
But no, the Governing Body of Dempo Charities' Trust which includes such worthies as the former Goa S.S.C.E. Board Chairman P.R. Nadkani, had in the meanwhile appointed a one - man inquiry officer, who in the face of all the evidence provided, without even examining the Accused, let him off without him even testifying and being cross-examined, in a Report, which quoted statements of witnesses who did not even appear before him!! The views of the Presenting Officer, which damned
V.R.Naik were not even given a mention.
Why did this happen? My guess is that the Management of D.C.T. - read Srinivas Dempo - one of, if not the richest man in Goa, will not tolerate anyone telling him who should be his managers - no matter if they are sexual harassers, no matter if they are rapists.So he allowed this farce.
The staff of the college went to the Directorate of Higher Education to question the legalities and proprieties of this in-house enquiry farce. When the D.H.E. questioned the Dempo Charities Trust about the matter, the D.C.T. panicked and threw the ball in the D.H.E.'s court asking their advice as to what was to be done. The D.H.E. after a great deal of persuation to give their opinion, put up a note saying the Vishaka Committee was final. But to delay matters further, they sent the note to the Law Dept. of the Govt. of Goa for approval. It is pending there now, for how many months...
In thee meanwhile V.R.Naik gets 50000 rupees a month as salary from the public exchequer. And to add insult to unjury, he has started a defamation case against the lecturers who stood as witnesses for the woman who was sexually harassed.
This is a long story. What has it got to do with the Herald and the Manjunath sexual harassment case?
(Part 2 later)


Here's a small development in the Herald sexual harassment case guys...
Sources close to the Goa State Women's Commission claim that the victim
has now been sent a Rs 1 crore defamation notice by Manjunath, through his lawyer.
Guys at the Herald tell us that the management is leaning in Manjunath's favour too...
This isn't a fair thing happening guys.
The Her
ald management which operates the premises in which both the victim and the accused were working has to ensure that a fair environment exists for a enquiry.
What about the Vishakha committee now?
When is Herald Publications Pvt Ltd going to constitute the committee as laid down by the Supreme Court? (As a reader Augusto Pinto raises a point in his comment, how many newspaper have a committee to probe incidents of sexual harassment at workplace? Shouldn't the Editor's Guild deliberate this? Shouldn't GUJ discuss this?)
Guys, the numbers we have listed below are the guys who to be told again and again that they must ensure a fair trial.
Pls call them... Keep calling them till they either tire of you or constitute the committee and ensure a fair enquiry.
It wont cost you much fellas, just a buck if you are in Goa. A bit more if you are abroad. But we are sure that calls like these would ensure that the Herald management is at least aware that people are watching their moves in this case. They need reminding guys...
We are also leaving behind numbers of those people who can make some sort of a difference in this case. You guys could call them too to buck them up.

Raul Fernandes 9822100188 (Herald MD and owner)
Oswald Fernandes 9823013308 (MD Raul's brother)
Manjunath 9822130034 (Herald GM)

Nissar 9422437029 (Editor HCN, that's where the victim was employed)
Michael 9822122304 (MD Raul's PA)

Ashwin Tombat 0832-2433373 (Herald Editor, direct line)
Ashwin Tombat 9421246332 (Herald Editor, mobile)
Herald board numbers 0091-832-2224202,2224460,2228083
Sunita 9881099260 (President Goa Union of Journalists)
Dr Pramod Salgaonkar 9822123050 (Chairperson, Goa Commission for Women)

Thursday, 21 August 2008


Goan local newspapers went to town about the sexual harassment case at Goa Architecture College recently. But just how serious are our local newspapers in particular about sexual harassment in their own workspace.
Barring the Gomantak Times and the Goan Observer, no newspaper has as yet, reported the sexual harassment case registered at the state unit of the National Commission for Women, involving N Manjunath, the general manager of the Herald, one of Goa’s leading English dailies.
The Navhind Times is perhaps returning the favour to the Herald (from one institution to another) for the latter’s tepid (and most times almost non existent) coverage of TNT Editor Arun Sinha’s molestation case. (But one point we’d like to make here. The TNT did report a criminal complaint filed against Herald managing director Raul Fernandes’ brother Oswald vis a vis some property offence, sometime back).The Times of India… wonder what happened to it. Too many skirts on the Goa Times Page 3 may have impeded their grand editorial vision. Those of you guys, who expect ‘fair’ coverage from TOI, would do well to wait for the tourism season to hit before they make their call. For that would be the season of dubious convergence between editorial and advertising interest. Lets see how the paper fares then.
To be honest, we really haven’t focused much on the vernacular papers, so if any one these guys did report it, we would appreciate if the readers would let us know.

For your information, Manjunath did not attend the first two hearings at the NCW when he was summoned. In the first hearing, he was represented by Michael (remember Raul’s PA? Turns out, he is also Manager Operations. Hmmm fancy title) who informed the Commission that Manjunath was unavailable.
Oh really… Manjunath has been in and around Panjim all this while. His being unavailable is rather strange, unless he’s busy seeking certain passengers for a lift all the way down to Verna, in sporadic fits of unbridled philanthropy.

His second hearing was scheduled yesterday on Wednesday, which too he did not attend.
In a letter, which he has submitted to the NCW instead, Manjunath claims that he was planning to file a complaint against the victim for “causing a lot of damage to his reputation and in his personal and public life.”
Guys can you beat this?
Are you guys at the
Herald and HCN going to take this shit lying down? Shame on you fellows! Stop thinking about yourselves as journalists or accountants and so and so forth. Don’t you guys think you have a basic duty to at least question the newspaper management as to what steps they are taking to see that justice is done?
Like we mentioned in our last post, we aren’t saying lynch Manjunath, but insist on forming a Vishakha committee and start an impartial enquiry for godsake.

We would really like to know what
Herald Editor Ashwin Tombat would have to say about this? And Nisser Dias… What’s Nisser doing about this? The girl was a part of Nisser’s HCN staff… Are these two guys going to take it lying down? We are also concerned about MD Raul Fernandes’ PA Michael. Guys how can Michael absolve himself off any responsibility? Michael used to share a cabin with Manjunath.
In which office have you seen a set up like this, fellas?
A general manager sharing a cabin with the managing director’s PA cum ‘operations manager’ and a receptionist behind close doors? Have you heard of anything like this before? We believe that Michael too should be questioned by the Commission for facilitating such an arrangement.
Back to the letter, Manjunath also states in his letter that if the woman had ‘any such grievance, then it should have been reported within the organisation and should not have been divulged in open. It should have been sorted out internally’.

What sort of an argument is this guys? Here you have a junior-most employee -- a production executive, who’s the victim, who claims that the general manager of her organization used to pat her face, brush her hair. So whom does she complain to? The accused is her top boss? Does she give him a written complaint at the time when he’s busy trying to caress her, as she alleges?

Manjunath, stop reading this blog and spend some time coming up with better excuses next time round. If its Michael you are relying on for this fluff, think again. Ask Joel or someone. He’s good at drumming them up. (BTW talking of fluff have you
seen this small flickr memoryput together by some ex HCN employee, interesting pics)
Sources at the NCW claim that the next hearing could well have to wait till Ganesh Chaturthi… That’s a long way off…
We’ve seen government’s fall in a matter of days in Goa. This is just a nobody girl seeking action against what she claims is a case of sexual harassment against the general manager of a leading English opinion making daily N Manjunath, who seems to have the management backing him.

At times a week is long enough for hope to crumble.
P.S. BTW guys we've mailed the Herald editor on his ID and the general ID for a response on this issue on the way we ran this story, the first time round. We've received no response yet. We have also asked them if we could send them a questionnaire on this issue. No response on that one too.

Saturday, 16 August 2008


One fine day in the state of Goaput, a god-fearing
courtesan with a mole on her face looked at the mirror only to discover lines on it.
She was aging. In hindsight all those years of years of petty pilfering from her clients wallets, really hadn’t amounted to much. Mortgage had eaten into most of it, she told herself. She didn’t even have her own home yet, she rationalised. She decided it was time to make the most of her clients, which included the who’s who of the city’s elite. The next day she stopped picking pockets on the sly. Instead she started reminding them about all about the services she had rendered to them. Night and day. Night and day.
She reminded them how she’d never tired. Everytime they visited her, she cribbed to them unceasingly.
One day all her clients met and decided that they’d had enough of it. They were aware of their purses being pinched all these years, but they did not mind. Now this constant cribbing
got to them.
They decided to shut her up by pooling together some monies, to buy her silence.
Some of the clients were builders who pooled in money for the cause. Then there was this baker, who blends batter in public, but mixes mortar in private. Then there was a clown, who prefers donning a suit to parades and a diarrhea prone ex-bureaucrat among others.
Being a public figure, the ruler of Goaput did not pitch in any money. It would be too obvious he thought. What would the people think, if they came to know of his association with a courtesan? Instead he informed the client brotherhood that he would throw in a few ads soliciting financial aid to the courtesan.
The courtesan was thrilled. She had money enough to last a while now. So she stopped soliciting other customers for a while. In fact so secure was she, that she even stopped soliciting the Church. i.e. until the Church itself ended up at her door.

1) The story hasn't ended yet... it continues to unfold. You guys follow newspapers right?


Saturday, 9 August 2008


Something disturbing has come up guys.
A woman employee at the Herald Cable Network (HCN), Panjim has filed a sexual harassment complaint against Herald general manager N Manjunath.
This is not the first instance, when a high-ranking Herald employee has been charged with sexual harassment. We had mentioned a case in an earlier PP post, but had stopped short of taking names because we didn’t have any evidence to substantiate our claims.
This time round, we have seen a copy of the complaint written by the victim, which has been submitted to the Herald. The copy has been marked to Herald MD Raul Fernandes, HCN Editor Nisser Dias and the National Commission for Women.
We are withholding the name of the complainant, but if any media organisation wishes to pursue the story, a copy of the complaint can be picked up from the NCW office.
The guy who’s grinning in the photograph above is N Manjunath, who’s been accused of sexual harassment at the workplace in the complaint.
Manjunath has been general manager at the Herald Publications Pvt Ltd for some years now. That virtually puts him charge of the daily operations of Goa’s second ‘largest circulated English daily’ and the Herald Cable Network.
Before his latest claim to glory as an alleged sexual aggressor, Manjunath has another claim to fame -- other than several of those, which involve him pandering to managing director Raul Fernandes’ Mohammad bin Tughlaq like whims.
Manjunath, along with MD’s personal assistant Michael were responsible for the elaborate OPERATION COAX AND BULL.
This was the dramatic exercise, which was launched by the Herald management to stop the exodus of Herald journos into the Times of India. The extent of the zeal with which Manjunath carried out this job can be judged from a text message he sent to a former Herald journo, who was Christian by faith.
While imploring his target not to quit the Herald, this is an excerpt from the evangelist-cum-marketing pitch Manjunath made to the journo. 'Dear ……. Herald is your paper. ‘Herald is a newspaper of the Christians, for the Christians, by the Christians’, so why are you quitting it for some other paper?
Abe Lincoln, roll not in your grave.
Coming back to this case… First of all Penpricks commends the victim for the rare nerve she has shown in bringing this issue out into the open. We hope that at least some of her colleagues will stand by her, in these difficult times.
The victim (we’ll call her X) who has simultaneously submitted her resignation, along with her complaint was employed as a production assistant at HCN since February 2008. After a few months she was suddenly transferred to the reception desk.
Inexplicable… how can a person hired for TV production duties be shifted to the reception? But stranger things have happened in the Herald
The transfer order was issued in June 2008, by the Human Resource department under orders from Michael Pereira, the complaint states. She was told that the arrangement would exist only for 3 to 4 days, but carried on till day she put in her papers.
But there appears to be a design behind her transfer to the reception, because the reception desk is from where the sexual harassment trail starts.
The letter claims that soon after the transfer, the general manager Manjunath allegedly started making passes at her. He would make X leave her desk and sit in his cabin, from where she was made to line up all the calls.
“This led to him coming on to me, whenever Mr Michael was not present in the office. During the last few days I had a very bad feeling since Mr Manjunath started asking if the doors were locked whenever he summoned to his office,” the complaint states.
X claims that Manjunath then started insisting that he pick her up and drop her home to and from work.
But it was Manjunath alleged recent actions, which proved to be the proverbial last straw. “He started taking advantage of me by touching my face, caressing my hand and head, whenever I focused on something. I told him a couple of times to keep his hands off me and that I do not like being touched, but he persisted,” X claims in her complaint.
Something needs to be done about this guys.
The allegations made by the victim need to be probed. We are not saying ‘lynch Manjunath’ right away. But this issue needs an honest looking-into, because a similar incident involving a senior editorial staffer in the HCN was hushed up by the management.
Raul needs waking up guys… And it’s you guys who can do it. Do not rely on Herald staffers to do it.
Perhaps if the earlier sexual harassment instance had been adequately handled by the Herald management or even the journo community at large, a repeat could have been avoided.
Please call up Raul on this phone number and tell him to initiate an impartial enquiry into the incident. Please call him even if you don’t know him. Let him know that such incidents should not be hushed up.
There are times when Raul acts like a deaf bull in a hearing-aid store.
So guys please call him. Keep calling
him whether you are in Goa or not... until he initiates and takes this complaint to its logical conclusion.
There are a few more numbers we are leaving behind here.
You guys could also call up Herald Editor Ashwin Tombat on his direct line and ask him to ensure a fair and impartial enquiry into the affair. Or you could call up the National Commission for Women and ask them to take the case seriously.
If any of you guys have Dr Pramod Salgaokar’s mobile number, we would appreciate if you could pass it on to us, so that we could pin it up on the blog.

Raul Fernandes, Herald managing director -- 9822100188
Ashwin Tombat, Editor Herald -- 0832-2433373 (direct line)
Dr Pramod Salgaonkar state president National Commission for women -- 0832-2421080(O) 0832-2257736(R)