MeToo: Hindustan Times political editor Prashant Jha steps down over harassment claims

October 08, 2018

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Prashant Jha — Photo courtesy: Twitter
Prashant Jha — Photo courtesy: Twitter

Prashant Jha of the Hindustan Times has stepped down as political editor and bureau chief after a former colleague accused him of harassment, NDTV reported on Monday.

In a letter to his editor, Jha said: "There have been specific allegations against me - and my personal conduct - recently, which have raised moral questions about my conduct. In this backdrop, I believe it would be best for me to step down..."

Jha's name had surfaced in a Twitter thread — kicked off by Indian journalist Sandhya Menon — which had encouraged women to name people who had sexually harassed them.

According to The Wire, former Hindustan Times correspondent Avantika Mehta had accused Jha of harassment. She had also posted screenshots of Whatsapp conversations between her and Jha on Twitter.

“I was as nice as I could be because my little experience in Delhi has taught me pissing off a man who’s considered a darling journalist will have shit repercussions for my career and/or I’ll be at the receiving end of his friend’s wrath or laughter,” Mehta was quoted as saying.

Mehta later clarified on Twitter that the conversations were from 2017, when she was no longer employed at the Hindustan Times.

The #MeToo movement had taken the — mostly Western — world by a storm last year as women and men went public with gory details of systemic sex abuse by those in positions of power in the film industry and beyond.

The movement took stride in India when Tanushree Dutta recently made public allegations of sexual harassment against veteran actor Nana Patekar.

Since then, renowned actor Kangana Ranaut has accused Indian director Vikas Bahl of sexual harassment while throwing support behind a female crew member who had accused Bahl for sexually assaulting her on the sets of the movie Bombay Velvet.