CHENNAI: Adyar Women Police on Friday registered an FIR in the Kalakshetra sexual harassment case, said Chennai Police.
According to police sources, Professor Hari Padman has been booked under 3 sections. The case has been registered under sections 354 (A) of the Indian Penal Code, which relates to "punishment for sexual harassment" and 509, 4 of the Woman Harassment Act. A complaint was lodged by a student of the college in this regard.
The students of the Foundation's Rukmini Devi College of Fine Arts in Thiruvanmiyur were protesting over a delay in action against a professor and others against whom sexual harassment allegations surfaced recently. They called off their agitation temporarily post-midnight.
The students of the institute, which operates under the control of the central government, were on a sit-in protest inside the campus demanding action against the professor who sexually harassed them.
A day after the protest by students, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin said in the State Assembly that legal action will be taken against those found guilty if the allegations are confirmed.
The chief minister was responding to a calling attention motion in the Legislative Assembly regarding the allegations. Opposition MLAs put forth the resolution - Balaji of VCK, Velmurugan of VUK, Selva Perundagai of Congress and others.
"Government is conducting a proper investigation into this matter and if the charges are confirmed, legal action will be taken against whoever is at fault," Stalin told the Assembly.
Stalin said that the National Commission for Women (NCW) Chairperson who initially wrote to DGP has sent another letter stating that their inquiry had concluded and that they haven't found any evidence of sexual harassment on campus.
Stalin said the Foundation has declared a holiday till April 6 and also directed the students to vacate the hostel within two days.
"I contacted the district collector's office and got the details. They have sent the Revenue Divisional Officer, District Collector and Joint Commissioner of Police to collect details and conducted an investigation. This morning again the team of revenue officials and police officers visited the campus," said Stalin.
He said that all necessary measures are being taken for the safety of the women students.
Earlier in the day, the students' Union of Kalakshetra college wrote to the Union Culture Ministry demanding action against the Director of the Institute and HOD of the dance department over the sexual/verbal abuse allegations against several male faculties.
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The students of Rukmini Devi College of Fine Arts, Kalakshetra Foundation have been demanding the immediate dismissal of faculty members Hari Padman, Sanjith Lal, Sai Krishnan and Sreenath, as stated in their complaint to the foundation director.
They also demanded an immediate end to the verbal and sexual harassment, and the body shaming and colourism at the foundation going on currently. They also demanded that the counsellor at the foundation be replaced since they did not have confidence in the counsellor.
'We did not get any written complaint'
Earlier in the day, the Additional Commissioner of Police, Chennai, South, Prem Anand Sinha, in a press interaction, said that no criminal action has been initiated against any staff of Kalashetra in connection with the sexual harassment charges as there was no formal written complaint.
The senior police officer was addressing the media after TV news channels reported that the police are inquiring into the sexual harassment allegations against some of the staff members.
"We did not get any written complaint for cognizable offence from the institution. If we receive such a complaint we will take the necessary action. Until then we request people not to spread any false information by twisting facts, regarding the issue," said Prem Anand Sinha.
Neelankarai Assistant Commissioner of Police KN Sudarshan and Thiruvanmiyur Inspector of police Meenakshi Sundaram on Thursday visited the Kalakshetra Foundation and they spoke to the students and staff who staged a sit-in protest inside the campus.
"The TN Women Commission Chairperson is in the institution to conduct an enquiry. On Thursday, the institute officials said their institution will enquire about the issue, and if needed, they will file a complaint. It is an independent institution under the Ministry of Culture of Government of India and they want to investigate before filing a complaint," said Sinha.
Meanwhile, a total of about 60 police personnel were deployed near Kalakshetra Foundation on Friday.
A team from the Tamil Nadu Women's Commission, headed by its chairperson AS Kumari, visited the campus to inquire into the entire incident. According to sources, Kumari was interacting with the agitating students to know about their grievances in detail and she will submit a detailed report to Chief Minister MK Stalin.
Meanwhile, students have also written to CM Stalin and also the Union culture ministry, which funds Kalakshetra, demanding action against the four accused dance teachers.
High drama prevailed on the Kalakshetra campus on Thursday as students started their protest in the morning and continued it till late at night around 1 am. With the protests intensifying, the administration closed the campus till April 6 but over 200 agitating students refused to leave the campus. The students gheraoed the director Revathi Ramachandran's office for hours demanding immediate action against the culprits.
"After waiting for hours, the director came out to speak to us but she was not ready to give any written assurance to us that she will initiate action against the accused. Thereafter she complained of uneasiness following which police escorted her out of the campus," said one of the students.
(With inputs from ENS.)