On 14 November 2018, The Caravan received a legal notice from Gaurav Sawant, the executive editor of India Today’s television channel. For its November issue, The Caravan uncovered several accounts of survivors of sexual harassment from the media, entertainment and art industries. These included the testimony of Vidya Krishnan, the former health and science editor of The Hindu, who accused Sawant of sexually assaulting her during a work trip in 2003. Sawant did not reply to The Caravan’s emails seeking his response to the allegations before the story was published.
The eight-page notice states that Sawant “vehemently denies each and every allegation” and that he was “shocked and surprised to read the said article.” It notes that Sawant has been an “award winning journalist for the past 24 years and has risked his life and limb, covering conflict in Kargil, Seirra Leone, Libya, Egypt and counter terror operation bot in J&K and North-East.” It adds that he has been “on innumerable assignments on the last 24 years and has conducted himself as a through Gentlemen, Professional as well as a proud son of an Army Officer.”
The notice refers to Krishnan’s description of the manner in which Sawant groped her in the vehicle that they were both travelling in: “It remains to one’s imagination as to how and why the No.3 of you”—Krishnan—“did not utter a singe word expressing her discomfort and trauma, if any, to any other person in the vehicle including the Army Officer, who was supposedly their host.” In the story, the incident is recounted as such:
“My body was frozen still,” she said. Krishnan looked around her, and saw men who were unfamiliar to her, but knew each other. The bonhomie was alienating. “I didn’t feel secure enough to tell anybody and say, ‘This is happening, make it stop.’ I didn’t have the confidence to say anything.”
Sawant denies “the happening of any such incident.” In the article, Krishnan recounts that Sawant invited himself into her hotel room, and minutes after entering, unzipped his pants, and began trying to force her hand towards his penis. The notice further states that Krishnan’s recollection of Sawant’s misconduct at the hotel is “absolutely false, fabricated, imaginary.”
The Caravan has reproduced the legal notice in full below.