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RAW officer attempts suicide at PMO

New Delhi, Wed, 20 Aug 2008 NI Wire
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The Research and Analysis Wing came under adverse spotlight on Tuesday again after its top notch officer allegedly tried to commit suicide by gulping poisonous substance at the highly safe and secured South Block situated at Raisina Hills in protest against sexual harassment.

The unfortunate incident occurred at 2 p.m. at Prime Minister Office when Nisha Priya Bhatia, the 46-year-old Director of the RAW Training Institute in Gurgaon doused the security officials and consumed rat poison on being denied entry.

Ms. Bhatia was rushed to the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital where she was put under observation. She is stated to be out of danger. Necessary action will be taken after registering her statement. She had earlier lodged a complaint against senior official alleging sexual harassment at workplace.

According to a Cabinet Secretary, under which RAW is administratively placed, release issued on Tuesday night, Ms Nisha Bhatia lodged a complaint last year alleging sexual harassment by her Joint Secretary.

The complaint was subsequently enquired into by the Complaint Committee, including an external lady officer, set up as per the guidelines of Supreme Court in this regard. The officer was provided ample opportunities to present her case, but she refused to cooperate with the committee, and later withdrew her complaint, release said.

Notwithstanding the committee carried out its inquiry, a number of complaints ranging from alleged unauthorised communication and contact with media, insubordination, misbehaviour, abuse of authority and sending of objectionable and offensive SMSs to senior officials of the government were received from different officials against her.

The committee completed the inquiry on May 19; it found that her allegations could not be substantiated. Findings instead presented a different picture of her a ‘disturbed state of mind’ and recommended medical counselling. The findings were later forwarded to competent authority in the government.

“Based on examination of reports of her ‘erratic’ behaviour, a senior medical officer of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) opined presence of a psychiatric illness in her and advised psychiatric opinion to assess her condition,” the press release mentioned. Ms. Bhatia was advised to go for medical counselling, which she denied.

In the light of aforesaid complaints of misconduct, a preliminary probe was ordered against her on August 08. “When the officer was informed about initiation of the enquiry yesterday on August 19, she indicated that she would not appear in any proceedings and warned the department would face severe consequences,” the release said adding that Tuesday’s incident occurred as per what she warned.

This is not the first controversial incident occurred with RAW officials. In fact, RAW has faced a string of controversies involving its senior officials. In 2007, Ravi Nair, a joint secretary rank official, was recalled from Sri Lanka after reports of his involvement with a Chinese woman spy reached New Delhi.

The RAW had come under severe criticism once again when its joint secretary Rabinder Singh defected to the US in 2004 and escaped from India despite being under the constant surveillance of the agency.

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