An area sales manager at a suburban store of a well-known clothing brand has been booked for allegedly demanding sexual favours from the fashion consultant working in the showroom. The complainant has alleged that she was terminated from service after she refused to give in to his demands.
On May 4, the police registered an FIR (copy available with MiD DAY) under sections 354 (outraging modesty), 342 (wrongful confinement), 509 (insulting modesty) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the IPC against the accused, who has been identified as Abhijit Ghosh. Ghosh was the area sales manager of the showroom at Raheja Chamber in Linking Road, Santacruz (West).
According to the police, the complainant Shaheen (name changed to protect privacy) joined work at the Santacruz showroom as a fashion consultant on December 18 last year. Trouble started brewing soon. About eight days after she had joined work, Ghosh started harassing her, referring to her as his ‘girlfriend’ and using endearments like ‘sweetheart’, ‘darling’ and ‘jaaneman’ to address her. He also made several unwelcome overtures, asking her out on weekends.
At the outset, Shaheen ignored him, but Ghosh was not discouraged. His advances became even more forceful – he started molesting her, forcibly hugging, kissing and touching her. Shaheen warned Ghosh to back down, but he threatened to transfer her to another showroom if she didn’t respond to his overtures. Employees of the brand dread being posted at the Colaba showroom, which lacks its own washroom. Employees are forced to use the public toilets near the Gateway of India.
“As I was new, I ignored his behaviour at first. But he started kissing, hugging and touching me. When I warned him to stop his behaviour, he threatened to terminate me from service,” said Shaheen. When the store went under renovation, Shaheen was transferred to a showroom in Haji Ali. Ghosh’ pursuits continued, and he started frequenting the showroom, and even forcibly took her to lunch one day.
A hapless Shaheen complained to his superiors at the head office in Delhi via an email, but no action was taken against him. On May 1, Ghosh called Shaheen into his cabin, and asked her to come into his cabin. Shaheen refused. Ghosh then told her that she had been terminated from service.
He later gave her a termination letter. Shaheen went to the police station and complained against him. On May 4, the police registered an FIR against Ghosh. He is absconding. “We have registered an FIR against Ghosh. The matter is under investigation,” said Arun Chavan, senior inspector, Santacruz police station.
The Other Side
Ghosh could not be contacted for comment. A man introducing himself as Mohammed Khan from the brand’s IT department, spoke on behalf of Ghosh, saying, “All of Shaheen’s allegations are false. As there were to many staffers, Ghosh was transferred to the Lower Parel showroom, but she was not ready to go there. Finally, she resigned and registered an FIR. Her boyfriend is threatening our staffers.”