Yesterday, a young woman accused TERI’s Rajendra Pachauri of harassing her when she worked briefly as an intern when she was only 19 years old. When she resisted Pachauri’s advances, the woman says in her statement, her contract – originally signed for a duration of one year – was terminated in only 4 months. Here, we reproduce her statement in full – as obtained from her lawyers.
I have read the story “Rajendra Pachauri speaks out over sexual harassment claims”, published in The Guardian. I remember that in the third week of February 2015, I had read some news reports which said that an employee of TERI had filed a criminal complaint against R.K. Pachauri for sexually harassing her. On reading these news reports, I was 0% surprised. I can very much relate to what the other women wrote in her statement. When I was 19, I worked for 4 months (end of 2008) at TERI, as Pachauri’s secretary. Pachauri’s claim that his computer was hacked is totally false. From my point of view, this is right in line with his character, and not a case of his computer being hacked. I think it is important for me to now make my statement public so that people know the truth about Pachauri.
Here is what I recall from my time in TERI.
From the beginning I noted a big difference in the way Pachauri behaved around me, compared to how other Indian men behaved with me. Other men kept a polite distance with limited physical contact. However, from the beginning Pachauri would put his hands on my waist repeated times, he would hug me longer than felt comfortable, kissed me on the cheek and inquired about my private life.
I started feeling insecure about his motives for hiring me, and felt extremely uncomfortable being around him. He would call me during non-working hours and holidays to ask me to come to his office and when arriving it became evident that he had no specific task for me. Pachauri would indulge in frivolous talk and try to get close to me. When nobody else was in the office, I remember feeling very wary of the fact that we were alone in the building, so I would lie and say that a couple of friends were waiting outside.
On one of these occasions, I actually was sick and could not come to the office. He then came to my home with a bouquet of roses. This might sound sweet, but at that time I just felt uncomfortable and scared. The tipping point came when he said that I should join him in his summer house outside of the city for the weekend. It would have just been him and me there, since he made it very clear that his wife was out of town. At this point I felt genuinely scared of what his motives for inviting me over were, and I decided to speak out and set a firm limit. I told him that he needed to behave more professionally and that I wanted us to have no other contact than during office hours. He didn’t take this very well, it became clear to me that it was not going to work. I recall him being passive aggressive about it and saying in a harsh tone that he was merely trying to make me feel welcome in India, then quickly ending the conversation and saying he was busy.
So soon after this conversation I asked to be transferred to another department in TERI. My request was granted but he still contacted me and asked me to come to his office a few times after that. After stating that I did not want to work with him anymore, he called me to his office one last time and told me that he decided to end my contract. I left New Delhi a few weeks after that. During these weeks I spoke quite openly about my experience, and I found out from many sources that this was nothing new and that Pachauri has been involved in many similar situations. I heard this from two TERI ex-employees, as well as two other people I met, who had overheard journalists talking about how everybody knows he is a womanizer but no one says anything. May it is gossip, but the picture painted by people I talked to was far from being one of a respectful, professional environmentalist.
My contract, which was for a period of 1 year, was abruptly terminated after a period of just 4 months. When he terminated my contract, I did not think there was any point in contesting it, as from my conversations with former employees at TERI I had gotten the feeling that it would be of little use trying to challenge any decision of Pachauri’s. I also felt very relieved that I would not have to face Pachauri’s sexual harassment any longer. I left New Delhi a few weeks after this and returned to Europe.