Senior journalist Barkha Dutt on Monday hit out at Congress leader Kapil Sibal over the “appalling” laying off and withholding the salaries of 200 employees of Noida-based HTN Tiranga TV.
Lashing out at the former law and justice minister and his wife Pramila Sibal, who is a chief financier of the television channel, Dutt said that journalists were ill-treated at the organisation, having had "their equipment confiscated and face sackings without even a 6 month pay out".
According to The Wire, staffers were assured while being hired that there was a nearly Rs 40 crore corpus that would provide at least two years’ salaries. However, sources at the channel told Outlook that not "a single contract went unhonoured" during the lay-offs. The company faced troubles after 23 May, when the NDA government returned to power and investors backed off or refused to invest further, the source added.
The former NDTV 24*7 senior editor, who is a consultant editor at the channel, said that many people had left their previous jobs after an assurance that a job at HTN Tiranga TV would be of a minimum tenure of two years. "Neither husband nor wife have even showed up to talk to staff. But all live programming has been cancelled for 48 hours,” Dutt said.
Dutt accused the Kapil and Pramila Sibal of using offensive language against female staffers, tagging the National Commission of Women to draw its attention to the matter.
"What is most shameful is that Kapil Sibal earns crores every day and won’t pay 200 employees the industry norm of 6 months or at least 3 months pay out, ruining the lives of 200 plus people," she wrote.
She further wrote that the Sibals wanted to use Prime Minister Narendra Modi “as an excuse” to lay off staff, blaming him for the channel’s short run. "Government of India has done nothing. Husband and wife have not faced staff, went on holiday to London, while shutting shop, prompting me to call him Mallya," she tweeted.
I would urge friends in the media fraternity and everyone with a voice to tweet @KapilSibal till he pays employees what is due to them instead of wriggling out with one month pay out and intimidating staff with threats of defamation & other Vakeel type tricks
— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) July 15, 2019
Dutt further alleged that she has been “threatened” with defamation for fighting for the staff’s rights and has been asked to withdraw the e-mails in which she has compared Kapil Sibal with fugitive offender Vijay Mallya.
The channel was initially launched as Harvest TV in January this year, but the name was changed to HTN Tiranga TV within a month.
On 3 July, sacked employees staged a protest outside Kapil Sibal's residence in Delhi. Some employees of the channel also held a small protest at the Press Club of India against non-payment of wages, The Wire reported. The channel is still airing, but it is running pre-recorded news bulletins.
Firstpost attempted to contact Kapil Sibal’s office, however, no response was received.
Updated Date: Jul 15, 2019 23:57:44 IST