Thursday, July 2nd 2020

Woman executive magistrate accuses DC of sexism

September 4, 2018


Woman executive magistrate accuses DC of sexism

Hazaribagh: In an open letter to Deputy Commissioner Ravi Shankar Shukla, Hazaribagh Executive Magistrate Deepmala has raised accusations of verbal abuse and mental harassment. The nine-page handwritten letter accuses the DC of having a feudal mindset for denying leaves and repeatedly assigning night duty with male officials, despite requests for day assignments as she is a single mother.

“I’m writing this letter gathering all the courage I have because I want people to know the state of mind I’m living with. Continuous trauma, torture and fear is taking a huge toll on my mind,” says Deepmala in the letter.

The letter went viral across WhatsApp groups in Hazaribagh late Monday taking the entire administrative establishment by surprise. When local journalists attempted to contact Deepmala, her phone was switched off, and apartment found locked. Deepmala later sent out WhatsApp messages to journalists requesting that they excuse her. The authenticity of the letter has been confirmed by Deepmala to 101Reporters.‪

“Yes, I have written that letter because the daily torture has become unbearable. I’m not in a good frame of mind right now and will talk later,” Deepmala told 101Reporters over the phone.

For representation purposes only. Picture credit: Charlotte Cooper

In the letter, Deepmala went on to recount incidents were she was humiliated by the DC in front of junior staff for a whole year.

“Those who know me, know well that I’m a ‘well-behaved female’. I know very well the consequences of writing this letter but a volcano erupts sooner or later,” she writes.

“The relationship between an IAS officer and State Administrative Service (SAS) officer is that of a senior and subordinate, where the senior is approachable and subordinate is cooperative and understanding. No IAS officer can achieve their targets without cooperation of SAS officials. In return, the SAS officials only expect their dignity to be respected. However, since past one year of my posting in Hazaribagh, I’m living in an atmosphere of constant fear as relationship of ‘DC sir’ with subordinate officers is like that between God/Dictator and a servant,” Deepmala writes.

Citing multiple incidents where senior Jharkhand Administrative Service officers were publically humiliated, Deepmala has accused Shukla of using Annual Confidential (performance evaluation) Report as a tool to harass the officers.

“It seems that DC sir has special contempt for lady officers of administrative service. There are four woman officers in Hazaribagh, all of whom are assigned night duties on regular basis, including during festivals. Being a single mother and new to Hazaribagh, I had requested DC sir to put me on day assignments but since that request, he ensured that I was put on night duty at every such opportunity. During one such night-duty, I was shocked to see that five to sex half-naked men, none of whom I recognised, were sleeping in the next room. As I walked through the room to relieve myself, one of the men woke up and upon realising that I was alone there, kept peeping through the window all night. What would DC sir have done had I been raped that night?” Deepmala wrote in the letter.

In the end, accepting that writing a public letter is against service rules, Deepmala writes that this job is important to her and she just wants to be respected and allowed to work in a dignified atmosphere.

“This service is important for me because it is the only source of livelihood. I know that I will be harassed and ways will be explored to get me fired. I will get zero in ACR report, but I am ready to face everything. Thank you DC sir for torturing me so much and making me mentally strong. I will distribute sweets upon your transfer,” Deepmala writes, as she concludes the letter.

Hazaribagh Deputy Commissioner, Ravi Shankar Shukla refused to comment on the letter. “Yes I have heard of some letter being circulated on WhatsApp and social media, but I cannot comment on such letters as a matter of policy. If the lady officer has any issue, she may submit an application to my office through proper channel,” Shukla said.

Ravi Shankar Shukla, a 2012 batch IAS officer was appointed as Hazaribagh DC in April 2016, while Deepmala also cleared the Jharkhand Public Service Commission’s Administrative Service exam in 2012. She was posted as Hazaribagh Executive Magistrate in April 2017.

101Reporters contacted K K Khandelwal, Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Personnel, Administrative Reforms and Rajbhasha, Jharkhand government for his take on the issue. The ACS listened to the query patiently but declined to comment on the matter before disconnecting the call.