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Kalakshetra sexual harassment row : Absconding Asst Prof arrested


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Chennai: A day after formally registering a FIR, the Chennai City police on Monday arrested an assistant professor of the Kalakshetra Foundation on sexual harassment charges.

The Assistant Professor, Hari Padman of Rukmani Devi College of Fine Arts run by the Foundation, was absconding after he was booked on sexual harassment charges based on a complaint by a former student of the prestigious institute.

Police said Hari Padman was arrested on his return from Hyderabad. “Though his mobile phone was found switched off, we have secured him”.

After further interrogations, he will be produced before a court for judicial remand.

Police said so far only one arrest has been made in the case based on a lone complaint. No others had preferred any complaint till date.

Based on the written complaint from the former student, a native of Kerala, the Adyar All Women Police Station registered cased under Sec 354-A (sexual harassment), 509 (Word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) and under Sec 4 of the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Harassment of Women Act against Hari Padman.

The complainant had stated in her complaint that the faculty had sent obscene messages to her through social media and had also sexually harassed her when she was a student at the institution.

The FIR was filed following a sit-in protest by the students demanding justice and action against the offenders.

In all four members of the faculty were named as offenders by the students.

Meanwhile, in a related development the Director of the Institute appeared before the Tamil Nadu Shate Human Rights Commission (SHRC) for questioning following summons issued by it.

Acting on a written complaint given by an alumna, the police team filed a case and started investigation into the case. Examination of witnesses will be conducted in the coming days and as a follow up of it, a special team has been deputed to Kerala to question the complainant and five others, who were said to have also submited their complaints to the State Human Rights Commission.

The SHRC has said that it has received more than 90 complaints from the students, both in writing and on online, and that after ascertaining it, SHRC Chairperson Kumari will be submitting a report to the Tamil Nadu government.

She also said that several students has said that the sexual harassment has been happening for the last few years, in the form of SMS mesages and through video calls.

The students after two days of holding sit in protest had called off the protest, but warned that they will fight till they get justice and the four faculty members in the Institute, said to be involved in the offence and were named by complainants, are arrested.

Ms Kumari had also visited the campus held inquiries with the students wherein several complaints were presented to her. It may be recalled that as the issue snowballed into major controversy as the Institute was run by the Union Cultural Ministry and students
outpouring their emotions resulting in various political parties demanding strict action, Chief Minister M.K.Stalin told the State Assembly that legal action will be taken against those if the charges against them were proved.


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