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Guardian-Pachauri Scandal Deepens

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Piyasree Dasgupta, Huffington Post India

The Guardian seems to have chosen to ignore the response of the complainant in the Pachauri case. Her lawyer told John Vidal over email that not only did they have proof of Pachauri’s advances made via WhatsApp, SMS, and email, police have verified the IP addresses and mobile tower locations from which these messages have been sent to establish that the complainant could not have sent them herself.

Former TERI director general RK Pachauri has broken his silence on the sexual harassment case he is battling in a series of interviews to British newspaper ‘The Guardian’. In the article, penned by the publication’s environment editor John Vidal, RK Pachauri offers a curious defence – that his email accounts were misused and manipulated by the complainant herself to frame him. He also said that he suspected people and organisations who resent his work against climate change, have orchestrated the incident to ‘destroy’ him.

Vidal’s article begins with glowing praise for Pachauri’s work and personality – the writer calls him ‘charismatic’ – and then goes on to state that he has been forced to lie low in Delhi.

Setting the tone for the rest of the article, where the reporter and writer’s sympathies are clearly with Pachauri, Vidal says, “He had weathered vicious attacks by sceptics and steered the IPCC to worldwide acclaim.”

Soon after informing his readers that the case against Pachauri was filed when he was not in the country, Vidal laments how the man who has founded ‘the huge energy research institute which has taken solar lighting to hundreds of millions of Indians’ is has now facing ‘ruin and disgrace’ where as his ‘enemies are revelling in his discomfort’. While Pachauri may have every right to feel that way, it is not clear how the reporter himself has come to draw the above mentioned conclusions. The enemy and ruin theory has not been attributed to Pachauri as a quote, it comes as the writer’s own statement.

rk pachauri

Pachauri goes on to indicate that the complainant in the case, a researcher with TERI who later quit the organisation,  had compromised his email accounts. He says: “What is disturbing [is] that right from the first day over a period of about 16 months she was creating and assembling an archive of messages, which to anyone would seem very unusual. As far as I know, the emails, text messages etc that she collected were personal, semi-personal and only in a few cases official.”

“I was, during that period, extremely busy and carrying out email communications on six different email accounts. These included my Yale, IPCC, Teri official, Hotmail as well as Gmail accounts. I generally corresponded with her on my Gmail account, but since I had a huge volume of messages to deal with I did not frequently read my messages, except when I was alerted about a message waiting for me. When I did access this account, I would only read unread messages. Honestly, how many of us check our sent items regularly?”

The Guardian, in the article, however, seems to have chosen to ignore the response of the complainant in the case. A copy of the correspondence, which HuffingtonPost India is in possession of, shows that her lawyer has clearly countered these claims. He tells Vidal over email that not only did they have proof of Pachauri’s advances made via WhatsApp, SMS, and email, police have verified the IP addresses and mobile tower locations from which these messages have been sent to establish that the complainant could not have sent them herself. A natural journalistic response to Pachauri’s claims would be to ask how did one woman manage to ‘hack’ his WhatsApp, SMS services and email? Not sure if The Guardian writer followed it up. More so, the lawyer also informed Vidal that TERI has till now refused to provide access to its internal servers to the Delhi Police, a piece of information the article has not mentioned either. […]

The report doesn’t mention that Pachauri’s lawyers questioned the findings of TERI’s own internal complaints committee and accused it of being false and through an industrial tribunal, secured a stay on its implementation.

Earlier this month, the Delhi Police had filed a 1400-page long chargesheet in the case, booking Pachauri under five sections of the Indian Penal Code – assault or criminal force to a woman, outraging her modesty, sexual harassment, stalking, and criminal intimidation….

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