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Kalakshetra Foundation: Professor accused of sexual harassment arrested by Chennai Police

According to a senior police officer, Hari Padman has been charged with sexual harassment under Section 354A of the Indian Criminal Code (IPC), criminal intimidation under Section 506 of the IPC, and harassment of women under Section 4 of the Tamil Nadu Prevention of Harassment of Women Act.

In the latest development, an assistant professor named Hari Padman of the Kalakshetra Foundation’s Rukmini Devi College has been arrested on charges of sexual harassment. The professor has been accused of making unwanted sexual advances towards his students.

The Adyar Women Police filed an FIR against one of the faculty members as students at the Kalakshetra Foundation’s Rukmini Devi College of Fine Arts in Chennai called off their demonstration calling for action against four faculty members over allegations of sexual harassment. 

According to a senior police officer, Hari Padman has been charged with sexual harassment under Section 354A of the Indian Criminal Code (IPC), criminal intimidation under Section 506 of the IPC, and harassment of women under Section 4 of the Tamil Nadu Prevention of Harassment of Women Act.

Earlier on Thursday, the students of the Kalakshetra Foundation-affiliated Rukmini Devi Institute of Fine Arts formally organised as a union. In addition, they pleaded with the Union Ministry of Culture to initiate action against the director and the head of the dance division.

Thursday saw the beginning of a student demonstration calling for the expulsion of four staff workers who were accused of inappropriate behaviour and sexual abuse. 250 students skipped the day’s exams and partook in a protest following the morning prayer. 

The students asked for quick recognition of the union they had founded with Jisma K.K. serving as president and Sakthi Shivani serving as secretary in a letter they addressed early on Friday to the secretary of the ministry of culture. According to the letter, Repertory Artists Sanjit Lal, Sai Krishnan, and Sreenath as well as Assistant Professor Hari Padman harassed the present and former students for years with sexual and verbal abuse. Beyond these four faculty members, it was stated, Revathi Ramachandran, the current director, and Dr Jyotsna Menon, the head of the dance department, had made casteist statements and body-shamed students.

According to the letter, the impacted students held back on speaking out for fear of retaliation and expulsion from the university. The letter said that despite several attempts to voice their complaints directly to Ms Ramachandra throughout her five-year leadership, “our concerns have been stonewalled.” A previous student, three current students, a teaching member, and a past student all wrote letters in support of the complainants in addition to the complaints.

The students demanded the formation of an internal complaints committee (ICC) with an external chairperson selected by the governing board in consultation with the students’ union, in addition to taking action against Ms Ramachandran and Dr Menon. According to the letter, the ICC must also have a representative from the students’ union. The students resolved to continue their sit-in until their demands were met.

On Friday, M.K. Stalin, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, announced in the Legislative Assembly that the sexual harassment allegations would be dealt with.

A.S. Kumari, the Chair of the Tamil Nadu State Women’s Commission, has stated that on April 3, the director and deputy director of Kalakshetra were called to the commission’s office and asked to bring the records of the institution’s internal complaints committee as well as their findings related to the complaints made by the students.

After assurances of action from the police and the Tamil Nadu Women’s Commission, the demonstration, in which more than 200 students took part, was suspended after midnight on Friday. The women’s panel chief, who visited the campus Friday, said she received as many as 100 complaints from students. The police and the state women’s commission stepped in after the protests escalated and students boycotted exams.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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