New Delhi: The Chennai police arrested Kalakshetra assistant professor Hari Padman on Monday (April 3) morning, in a sexual harassment case filed by a former student.
The complainant, who had dropped out of the postgraduate dance programme at Kalakshetra because of Padman’s harassment, told NDTV, “He once sought sexual favours. He asked me to come to his home saying none would get to know.” She alleged that because she refused, he took away an important role in an upcoming dance drama from her.
Close to 90 students of Kalakshetra had written to the chief of the Tamil Nadu State Commission for Women A.R. Kumari last week, saying they had been sexually harassed and verbally abused by Padman and three repertory artists – Sanjith Lal, Sai Krishnan and Sreenath. Kumari told The News Minute that she and the Commission were investigating all the complaints. “I will submit my report to chief minister M.K. Stalin. After his assessment, the government would direct the police for action,” she said.
“During my inquiry with the students, all of them, including alumni of the institute said that sexual harassment was prevalent in the college since 2008,” she added.
On Friday, the police had filed a case against Padman under Sections 354A (sexual harassment) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code, and Section 4 (penalty for harassment of woman) of the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Harassment of Woman Act.
The alleged abuse on campus first came to light when a former director – Leela Samson – wrote and then deleted a Facebook post about it in December last year. Her post led to an outpouring of allegations and anger. On March 21, The Print reported on growing disaffection within the student community on how alleged abusers were being protected and even felicitated. Students felt let down by the institution’s attempts to brush the matter under the carpet instead of taking the allegations seriously.
They have been holding protests on campus, demanding that a thorough and fair investigation be carried out.