New Delhi: A former BBC Hindi employee has accused the media organisation of caste discrimination, which, he alleged, drove him to depression.
Citing an example of discriminatory behaviour, Abhimanyu Kumar Saha, who belongs to the Extremely Backward Caste category, alleged that a senior at BBC Hindi would often tell him that Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati is his leader.
“Mayawati is a political leader from Uttar Pradesh and I am from Bihar. How can she be my leader?” he told ThePrint. Saha had joined BBC Hindi in 2017.
This is not the first time that BBC Hindi has been accused of casteism. In August last year, Meena Kotwal, a Dalit journalist and a former employee of the organisation, had alleged that she lost out on a contract at the media house because of her caste.
BBC Hindi had then denied the allegations, saying it abides by the laws of the country it works in, and that it doesn’t comment on personal issues. “Many people work for us on a fixed-term basis and the renewal depends on factors such as editorial requirements and available resources,” a BBC spokesperson had said.
Giving other examples of discriminatory behaviour he faced at BBC Hindi, Saha said, “When the 10 per cent reservation for the economically weaker section in the general category in India was passed, then some people in the newsroom started making fun of me.”
Saha, who has now launched his own start-up, claimed when the 13-point roster issue was being debated extensively, an employee in the newsroom said, “Abhimanyu can be the best to work on it as he has experience in these things.”
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The 13-point roster considers each subject department as a unit to implement quotas in appointments of university faculty.
Saha alleged, “When I raised my voice against it, I was targeted.”
He said the situation was so bad that he started feeling depressed and suicidal.
Saha also alleged a senior in the organisation had provoked him to commit suicide.
“I was tortured to an extent that I became depressed and had suicidal feelings. A senior had doubts over my depression and he even provoked to me commit suicide,” he said.
Responding to these allegations, a BBC spokesperson told ThePrint, “The BBC has well-established, thorough and fair hearing processes but we do not comment on individual cases.”
Terminated from job on 23 March
Saha told ThePrint when he couldn’t bear the “discrimination”, he sent a mail to thousands of employees of BBC across the globe.
“I had to face caste-based discrimination in BBC Hindi. Most of the employees here are upper caste. There are rarely those who are not upper caste,” Saha wrote in the mail that was accessed by ThePrint.
He further wrote that despite the BBC having a policy that speaks about diversity in the newsroom, most employees are from the upper caste.
Saha told ThePrint he was fired on 23 March, six days after he sent the mail.
“When I raised the issue of discrimination against some other employees and me, my bosses started targetting me and I was terminated before the completion of my term.”
Saha also alleged that the organisation deliberately gave him negative review on his performance.
He claimed after he sent the mail to the BBC employees worldwide, he received calls from some employees working in other South Asian services, who shared similar experiences.
He also referred to the Meena Kotwal incident of August last year.
“Meena was asked by a senior person in the organisation which caste she belongs to,” Saha said.
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