Bihar Food and Civil Supplies Minister Shyam Rajak has come under fire after being accused of alleged mental harassment of a Doordarshan woman employee. On Friday, the minister refuted the charge, but the Opposition parties sharpened their attack on the Janata Dal (United).

A woman programming officer with Doordarshan, Bihar Region, has alleged that a group of persons came to her house on Wednesday morning and threatened her for not doing the minister’s work. On the same day, she filed an FIR against Mr. Rajak and Navin Prasad, another DD official.

“The matter began in November when the programming officer relieved Mr. Prasad of one of the portfolios he was handling,” the complainant’s lawyer Sumeet Kumar Singh told The Hindu.

“Mr. Prasad then threatened her to restore his post. The harassment continued and he used abusive language against her. On November 22, Mr. Rajak called my client at 9 p.m. and said the Mr. Prasad was his brother and his portfolio should be restored. My client got another call that day from a relative, whom Mr. Rajak had asked to impress upon my client to roll back her decision. The matter came to a pass on Wednesday morning when a group of men came to her house. They said, ‘Let us see how you get out of your house. You are not doing the minister’s work’,” Mr. Singh said.

Both Mr. Rajak and Mr. Prasad have been booked under the bailable Indian Penal Code sections 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) and 506 (criminal intimidation).

Rebuttal

Refuting the charge of mental harassment, Mr. Rajak on Friday termed the case ‘a political conspiracy.’

“For the last 15 years, I have had good relations with the woman’s family. So I am stunned by the accusation. This looks like a political conspiracy,” he told reporters.

Mr. Rajak admitted to calling the complainant on November 22, but said he had no idea of people going to her house.

“I am in political life and I call a number of people on any given day requesting them to resolve people’s issues. Similarly, I told her to look into the matter. All we can do is urge people, but if someone feels mental pressure because of that [,what can we do]?” he said.

He denied speaking to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on the issue and said he was open to any probe.

Meanwhile, the police are inquiring into the matter. “We would be sending a report to the chief judicial magistrate’s court on the charges. We have taken the call data records,” BN Jha, Patna Rural Superintendent of Police and Senior SP (in-charge) told The Hindu.

While the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party demanded Mr. Rajak’s resignation, former CM and Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Rabri Devi said women were being exploited under the current government.

The Janata Dal (United) stepped in to defend Mr. Rajak in the face of criticism. JD (U)’s Sanjay Singh said the minister had not misbehaved with the employee.