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Commentary: Ad Club’s Emvies night of shame as Shibani Gharat is assaulted

The young reporter from CNBC Awaaz was assaulted brutally just outside the Emvies event venue on Friday night at around 11.30 pm. Despite her SOS calls to a few Ad Club functionaries, no one came forward to help. What good are your metal-winning “fairytales” on women’s empowerment?    

Kalyan Kar


Delhi | September 14, 2015

KKIt was a tormented weekend for those who have a conscience and have an abhorrence for apathy. On Saturday morning, as I customarily opened my Facebook on my smartphone, the very first post hit me like a bludgeon. It had already gone all over the social media platform since the previous night with outrage being poured. What happened could happen to any woman – and it did on Friday night at the Ad Club's Emvies event held at the St Regis Hotel, earlier known as Palladium, in Mumbai’s Lower Parel. A young girl from the media was assaulted – but nobody among the stalwarts of the Indian advertising industry came forward to her rescue despite repeated SOS calls to them! What a shame.

Shibani Gharat is a well-known, popular and much loved young reporter from CNBC Awaaz covering the advertising & media beat. So is Pritha Mitra Dasgupta from The Economic Times. Here is what Shibani and Pritha wrote on Facebook:

“I was walking out of Ad Club's Emvies event with two fellow journalists - Pritha Mitra Dasgupta and Prasad Sangameshwaran (Hindu Businessline) - when at the exit gate of Phoenix Mills. A random guy came from behind and started stabbing and hitting me on my left shoulder with his arm. He claimed that I slapped him - which is untrue as I spent my entire evening with Prasad and Pritha at the event and hadn't seen this person ever in my life. We called the Phoenix security officials to first take charge of the guy - who showed no sign of being sorry. Then we informed the police and the police arrived. The most shocking part about this whole incident was that the guy was present at the event. He had an official event pass. He is a peon at some garment company in Bandra. What business does he have attending an ad industry event? So, when the police probed it was found out that the guy had been given a pass by a member of the event management company, Fountainhead, as the culprit insisted that he wanted to visit such an event. 'MAJOR SECURITY LAPSE'…

“Now, if this is not enough, when this incident happened two people present with me, Pritha and Prasad, tried reaching out to a few senior Ad Club committee members. No one came forward to even come and see what has happened. No one accompanied us to the police station to lodge an FIR. They sent a few students (volunteers) who stay around Lower Parel to the police station. I am amazed by this gesture. Now, I have finally filed an FIR against the person whom I absolutely don't know from anywhere who just randomly came a hit me. Hope to get justice.”

I have checked with Shibani and Pritha over the weekend on every detail. As it had happened, they reached out in panic to a “worthy” of the Ad Club over phone. I am not taking names yet, but the “big” man simply said, “I have already left the venue.” Holy shit, would this worthy have said the same thing if the SOS call was from his own family member? Shouldn’t he have immediately turned his car around to head back to help out? Shame on you, big man. You are pathetic.

A couple of more phone calls elicited no help. In desperation the two girls called a friend, a Corporate Communication head of a major media agency. She is a female. She immediately came rushing out, sized up the situation, and on being urged by Shibani and Pritha, ran back into the hotel – the Emvies cocktails were still on – and pleaded with a senior functionary of the Ad Club – no names yet – to come to the assistance of Shibani. The functionary, as one is given to understand, was totally sloshed. All he did was to send two student volunteers. What a cretin! Prefers to continue drinking and not move his butt to help a woman in distress who is known to him very well.

While angst and anger and concern have been pouring into Shibani’s and Pritha’s Facebook pages, many from the ad industry itself, not a single Ad Club functionary has dared enter their pages with a comment showing remorse. There is one worthy who did mention that they should have called him up because “we are good at handling such situations on a daily basis”. Does he know that his own boss refused to turn his car around when he was called to inform him of the crisis?

Interestingly, most of these advertising seniors don’t take a second to comment and “like” a post from Shibani even if she puts up a post of her doing a piddly 5-km run. For Shibani is an ultra-marathoner, she can run 40 km without a sweat. Yet, in her hour of helplessness when she was assaulted at their own event, they all developed frozen fingers. They shied away from the customary “likes” and comments.

Let me add here. Two of the finest gentlemen that we know in the advertising fraternity were the only exceptions in this sea of apathy. Unfortunately, both were absent from the Emvies event on Friday night. Thank you Shashi Sinha and Ashish Bhasin, for coming out openly and stating that you guys will take this up strongly once you are back. At least you have shown you have your conscience still in place and still have balls. Just rope in Srinivasan Swamy and go at these spineless Ad Club Mancom morons.

Many say that advertising is basically a con game, where you fool consumers with fairytales. No wonder these great ad guys win so many metals doing fairytales on women’s empowerment, proudly display them in their office cabinets – yet when push comes to shove, they prefer to go “missing”.

On last information, event management company Fountainhead, headed by Brain Tellis, claims it has sacked the executive who handed out the complimentary pass to a peon from a garment factory. How does that help? Why was this allowed to happen in the first place? Was there no security consideration in the first place? Does the Ad Club and Fountainhead realise that things could have been immensely worse had Shibani been alone on Friday night? One shudders to think.

For more details, read Pritha Mitra Dasgupta’s report in

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