Female Consultant accuses Director Health of ‘sexual harassment’, writes to LG Secretariat Office
Srinagar, Oct 28: Sexual Harassment complaints against incumbent Director Health Services Kashmir Dr Samir Mattoo have started surfacing after Health and Medical Education Department on the directions of Lieutenant Governor’s Secretariat Office constituted a ‘Complaint Committee’ to look into allegations being leveled by female employees of the Health Department.
As reported earlier by News Agency Kashmir News Trust that Director Health Services Kashmir is forcing female staffers to attend his Gupkar based private residence at odd hours. This has been corroborated by the latest sexual harassment complaint filed against Dr Samir Mattoo by a senior Consultant MCH (name withheld) before Satvir Kour Sudan Director General P&S, Health and Medical Education Department who is the Chairperson of ‘Complaint Committee’ that probes the allegations of sexual harassment in the Health and Medical Education Department.
Sources said that it was Principal Secretary to LG, Nitashwar Kumar who has forwarded the sexual harassment complaint against Director Health Services Kashmir to ‘Complaint Committee’ directing it to probe the matter.
In the complaint along with all documents, the complainant according to KNT has alleged that Dr Samir Matoo called her over phone when he was in inebriated state and when she didn’t encourage him; he (Dr Samir Mattoo) started harassing her on one or the other pretext.
The Complainant who is working as Consultant MCH in Directorate of Health Services from past 23 years has stated in her complaint that she was working as Epidemiologist Kashmir and State TB Officer when Dr Samir Mattoo assumed the charge of Director Health Services Kashmir.
“Initially, Director was cordial with me and work was going on as usual but suddenly on 13 December 2019, I received a call from him (Dr Samir Mattoo) at 8:30pm when was drunk. He started with some non-sense about some obscure drug list. In reply to which I repeatedly told him that I had no such list. However, he was repeatedly pleading with me to call him. ‘**** mujeh phone karna’, were his precise words. I was curt with him and dropped the phone when he used unparliamentary language. However, instead of feeling ashamed of his act, he started bullying me and harassing me from the very next day,” the Complainant in her letter has stated.
In her long letter, the Complainant has sited multiple incidents when she was harassed by Dr Samir Mattoo.
“In retaliation, on 15th December 2019, he issued an order removing me from the post of Nodal Officer, National Tobacco Control Program.”
The Complainant has said that when she didn’t oblige to him, he withdrew her official vehicle for no rhyme or reason. The Complainant has mentioned the names of some of the persons who according to her are the witnesses of the harassment she faced at the hands of Director Health Services Kashmir.
She says once the Director forced her to handover some papers personally to him and not through any clerk and she has stated that one Dr S.M.Kadri is witness to this incident.
She has stated that Director once made her wait outside SKICCC un-necessarily for hours in chilly weather and even forced her to report at his Gupkar based official residence.
The Complainant has stated that she was forced by his regular harassment and hostile behavior to leave a new building, though it was equipped with all the facilities.
“Interestingly, Dr Samir Mattoo was repeatedly asking me to go and meet higher officers in Secretariat whenever, I had a chance to visit Jammu.”
She has stated that Dr Samir Mattoo was forcing her to stay in his room. “Why can’t you sit in my office? Can’t you sit with me for ten minutes, he would plead.
She says when the Director crossed the limits, she applied for the post of Surveillance Medical Officer in WHO and had been accepted. “My salary there was around 1.13 lakh rupees, which is far less what I am drawing from the current job. But the harassment was so distressing that I was ready to leave. Dr Mattoo didn’t relieve me and I think he wanted to ensure that I suffer utter humiliation so that I don’t speak against him and comply.”
The Complainant has said that after the Covid-19 pandemic breakout, Director Health Services Kashmir works from his Gupkar based home and he ensures that anyone who has some work must visit his home. “He even demoted me,” she has stated.
“He is trying to harass me mentally and trying to destroy my career using his superior position to threaten me because I didn’t succumb to his unwelcome behavior. I feel unsafe working in the hostile environment in the department and there is great danger to my dignity and well-being and it is again requested to take this complaint seriously and stringent action be initiated against this man (Samir Mattoo) who has muddied the name and stature of Director Health Services.”
She has stated that this is her fourth complaint and all the previous complaints have fallen on deaf ears
“Please verify each word of what I am writing from the places where he has worked in the past. Such a person deserves to be taken to task for such behavior and I trust your integrity and honesty to hold him to account. I am forced to speak to you because I don’t trust anyone in the Directorate, where he has surrounded himself with his sycophants,” the Consultant has written to Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha.
Pertinently, the ‘Complaint Committee’ which has been constituted to probe into sexual harassment complaints in the Health Department is headed by Satvir Kour Sudan-Director General P&S, Health and Medical Education Department and its members are Dr Samia Rashid, Principal Government Medical College Srinagar, Dr Reenu Sharma, Director Health Services, Jammu. (KNT)