The Chennai police registered a sexual harassment case against Hari Padman, an assistant professor at Rukmini Devi College of Fine Arts, Kalakshetra Foundation, two days after the students’ protest.
The students of Rukmini Devi College of Fine Arts held a protest, demanding action against Hari Padman and three other faculty members. Late at night on Friday, Hari Padman was booked under IPC Sections 354A (sexual harassment) 509 (use of words, gestures or acts intended to insult the modesty of a woman) and Section 4 of the Women Harassment Act.
Over 100 students wrote complaints to the chairperson of the Tamil Nadu State Commission for Women (TNSCW). A former student lodged a complaint at an All Women Police station in Chennai. According to Police, he was sending obscene messages and comments to her through social media. The faculty harassed her while she was studying at the institute. Though she discontinued her studies, he kept harassing her.
The students have reportedly been facing sexual and verbal abuse and harassment for decades from assistant professor Hari Padman, and repertory artists Sanjit Lal, Sai Krishnan, and Sreenath. The management of the foundation failed to give satisfactory answers to queries on why no action was taken on the sexual harassment complaints from students.
“I have received over 100 written complaints from students. We will examine the complaints and will submit our report to the state government by Monday,” said TNSCW chairperson AS Kumari, adding “The director and deputy director were not present on the campus. I met the principal and when I asked him why no action was taken on the sexual harassment allegations so far, he had no answer.” Responding to the issue raised by Opposition parties in the assembly, CM MK Stalin said, “When the issue was brought to my notice, I spoke to the district collector and got the details. A team of revenue and police officials was sent to Kalakshetra for inquiry. On Friday morning, this team met the students and the Kalakshetra administration and had discussions. A police team headed by a woman inspector has been posted there to ensure the safety of the girl students.”