Meghalaya: When a decision to preserve one’s dignity almost cost a female employee her job!


Soil Deptt constitutes Enquiry Committee to probe into harassment allegations against Director  

SHILLONG, Jan 31: Her decision to preserve her dignity and her integrity almost cost her, her job besides the torment she was inflicted upon by her boss, the mental and physical torture she was subjected too was more than she could bear and help was only but mere verbal promises which never materialised.

Days after the Raj Bhavan scandal rocked the entire nation; the state has yet again witnessed another case of alleged harassment meted upon a female employee of the Department of Soil and Water Conversation, Government of Meghalaya by none other than the Director, D Langstieh.

Interestingly, soon after the matter was reported in the media, the directorate immediately constituted an Internal Enquiry Committee to investigate into the matter and to ascertain whether the charges levelled against the director were factual or not.

Ironic indeed! It was only after 5-6 months when complaints were lodged at different levels that an enquiry committee was finally constituted. And to make matter even more suspicious, the committee was constituted only when the matter was reported to the media.

"I received a call today (Jan 31) form office stating that I might be called for an enquiry," she said adding that what surprised her was that it took so long for them to constitute the same when the matter was reported months ago.

In relation to delay in salary disbursement, it was informed that the office the Joint Director of Soil and Water Conservation, Research and Training Conservation Institute, in Byrnihat had given her two days time to provide her Last Payment Certificate (LPC) before she could join.

It was informed that an employee, whose salary has not been cleared, cannot be transferred. "Today when I had gone to the Treasury to ask for my LPC, I was informed that the order to release my pay had just arrived and it would take them one day to clear the same," the employee said.

"If the matter had not been flashed, I think I would have never got my salary and it would have taken them months to issue the release order," she alleged.

It started way back in Oct 2015 when the 24 year old girl was appointed as an orderly peon in the department (the term 'orderly' of which is not available in the service rules as per the RTI findings). On the same day that she joined (Oct 30), the director immediately asked her to work in his house.

The work assigned to her included—washing of dishes and clothes, ironing the boss's outfit, cleaning his house and even assigned the work of a gardener. For 3 long months, she worked in his house without any fixed timings or holidays (state holidays included) and salary was paid every month.

However, the whole episode started in the month of Feb 2016 when a questionable offer, rather more of an order, was made by the director who asked her stay overnight, an order which attacks her dignity as a woman. She turned down and refused to stay overnight.

Her denial angered him and she was barred to enter his residence and perform her duties. It was alleged that when the victim sought an explanation from the office, the staff advised her to return to the Director's quarters located at Cleve Colony and beg for forgiveness.

"I did, I went there every-day and even apologised for something that I didn't do. I refused him and that is why I was denied entry into his quarters. For many months, I sat outside his house because I don't know what else to do," claimed the female employee.

Later, I was informed by the office that I needed to work at the residence of the Under Secretary but "when I went there, the under secretary said that he cannot appoint me without an official letter," she said adding that when she went back to the office to asked for an official letter from the Director, "They refused and called me a 'Drama-Queen'".

In the month of July 2016, the Director sent a letter to the Senior Treasury Officer of the Treasury office Shillong directing the office to withhold the employee's salary with effect from 1/7/2016 stating derailment of service as the reason.

"For the past 7-8 months, my salary has been withheld for no fault of mine. I was there the whole time. I was not permitted entry into his residence and I was not even granted an official letter to work in the Under Secretary's house, so what am I supposed to do", she alleged.

"I have sent letters to the Director, Under secretary, Principal secretary and even the Minister incharge, Ronnie V Lyngdoh couples of time to apprise them of the delay in payment of my salary but to no avail," she said adding that "Only mere verbal promises were made but with no results."

Surprisingly, in the month of November, she received a transfer order where she was required to work at the office of the Joint Director of Soil and Water Conservation, Research and Training Conservation Institute, in Byrnihat. She feels that her transfer was motivated by personal vengeance.

The employee also alleged that when her grandmother met the Director to seek clarification on the offer to stay overnight, the director chased her out of his residence. "The superintendent also phoned my grandmother stating that if I didn't want to go Byrnihat, I better resigned," she said that the thought had tortured her grandmother to the extent that she suffered a stroke and for the past one month, she has been admitted in the ICU.

"I will not be bogged down by such high-handed attitude of government officers who think they can get away with anything and if the need be, I will knock the doors of the court and take the case forward justice is served," she said.

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