Friends write to Ratan Tata,Cyrus Mistry,ask for probe into Deshpande’s death

Allege harassment at Tata Steel; Will ascertain facts,take action accordingly: Tata Group

Written by Express News Service | Mumbai | Published: July 2, 2013 2:46 am

Two days after ex-Tata Steel corporate communication head Charudatta Deshpande allegedly committed suicide,his former colleagues and friends have written to Ratan Tata and group chairman Cyrus Mistry to conduct an impartial inquiry into the events that led him to end his life.

In a June 30 letter written to Mistry,Ratan Tata and RK Krishna Kumar in his personal capacity,K Ramkumar (executive director and board member at ICICI Bank) said he did not question Tata Steel’s decision to separate Deshpande from the organisation,but the way it was done. “The people whom he met during the last 4 weeks tell me that he was put under untold pressure and threat at Jamshedpur. I am told that his phone was being monitored. He was confined to his place of stay. He was threatened of what and for what I do not know.”

A day earlier,Deshpande’s former colleagues and friends including Indrajit Gupta,ex-editor,Forbes India,wrote to the Tata brass,“He had informed a friend that he was being bullied into signing some documents/ bonds on June 29,a day before he took his life.” Urging the group to institute an inquiry,the letter pointed to a story ‘Remoulding Tata Steel’ that appeared in Forbes’ April 2013 issue. It said Deshpande “got in touch with those of us at Forbes India and alleged officials at Tata Steel were placing the blame on him for ‘facilitating’ a story they thought (was) inimical to their interests”.

To a detailed questionnaire sent by The Indian

Express,the Tata Group said Deshpande was a loved and respected former colleague. “We take the allegations raised in the letter seriously and will establish an appropriate process to ascertain the facts and take action accordingly. No Tata company would condone or authorise any action or behaviour as suggested in the same,” said Dr Mukund Rajan,chief ethics officer,Tata Group.

In his letter,Ramkumar,fell short of taking the name of a senior Tata Steel employee,alleged to be the central figure in the alleged harassment episode.

“The name of one person kept coming up as the person who was orchestrating it. I do not want to prejudice you and will leave it to you to find it out,” he said.

While Ramkumar alleged that a PR agency was sullying Deshpande’s name with disgraceful stories,the Tata Group denied the allegations. “We also categorically deny any action by the company concerned and/ or its partners to sully the name of the deceased,” said Rajan.

When contacted,Mumbai police said it found an iPad near Deshpande’s body.

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