Pressure mounted on Teri executive vice-chairman RK Pachauri overnight after one more woman publicly accused him of sexual harassment while a group of students refused to accept degrees from the former UN climate panel chief at the institute’s forthcoming convocation.
The fresh allegations against Pachauri, 75, came two days after he was made the executive vice-chairman of Teri – short for The Energy and Research Institute – drawing a sharp rebuke from activists who called his elevation shameful.
Pachauri was forced to quit as chairman of the Nobel Prize-winning UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) a year ago after one of his colleagues, a 29-year-old woman, filed a complaint of sexual harassment against him.
On Wednesday, another former employee lodged a complaint with Delhi police accusing Pachauri of harassing her and other women and alleged that police did not take action on her previous complaint.
The woman quit the institute in 2003.
Delhi police, however, refuted her allegation of refusing to act on her complaint. Teri authorities too did not respond to a questionnaire from HT.
In a five-page statement issued through her lawyers, Brinda Grover and Ratna Appnender, the woman gave details of her alleged ordeal during her stint at Teri.
“Soon after I joined Teri and began interacting with Mr RK Pachauri, he had renamed me with a sexually suggestive nickname ‘xxxx’. He said that this was a derivative of my official name and suited me far better. I recall that he said things like xxxx is sweet, and also how attractive flowers attract bees etc,” the woman said.
She described how, on another occasion, Pachauri allegedly called her to his office and told her “he could lift hefty and heavy women, and so lifting me would not be a problem for him”.
She mentioned another incident when she was on leave from work because of ill health and Pachauri called her and offered a massage.
“He called me on my mobile number to ask why I was not in office. When I told him that I was suffering from migraine, he said, ‘Hum bahut achhi champi kartein hain… aap chahein kar sakte hain’ (I give very good head massage… if you want I can give you a massage),” the statement said.
She accused Pachauri of asking “intrusive questions about my personal life, about when my husband was going to be out of town, and how I spent my weekends.”
The woman said Pachauri once propositioned her indirectly using a sexually explicit manuscript he had written.
“He told me that... he would like me to read and make suggestions before he handed it to the publisher... He suggested that I could use his house/farmhouse to read in seclusion, and that he would like to join me for discussions etc. He suggested we meet after work to discuss the novel. I told him that I would not go to his house and I found such suggestions by him very disturbing and unprofessional... When I thumbed through the manuscript, I came across graphic descriptions of sex,” the woman added.
Pachauri’s lawyer Ashish Dixit said the fresh complaint was meant to prejudice court proceedings.
“This is not a new complaint. There is no complaint for that matter -- this woman seems to only appear on TV and nowhere else. It’s being circulated a day before Dr Pachauri’s high court hearing, and can only be meant to create prejudice and is only intended to prejudice the proceedings,” he said.
A group of Teri University students and alumni also wrote a letter to the acting vice-chancellor on Wednesday, condemning the appointment of Pachauri as the executive vice-chairman of the green body, and refused to accept their degrees at the convocation in March.
“Given the flow of events, it seems like Dr Pachauri is using all his political clout, media influence and networks to stall the judicial process, intimidate witnesses, coerce Teri colleagues and employees to ‘persuade’ the complainant to withdraw her case and settle out of court as it would be ‘better for her since she has nothing more to gain’,” the letter said, referring to the first complainant.
On Tuesday, she had said that the decision to elevate Pachauri made her “flesh crawl” .
The group of students also started an online petition to garner support for Pachauri’s removal from the institute.