The students of Rukmini Devi College of Fine Arts, Kalakshetra Foundation continue their sit-in protest demanding the immediate dismissal of faculty members.
CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin on Friday assured that a proper investigation will be conducted into the allegation of sexual harassment against four faculty members of Kalakshetra Foundation.
He said that based on the investigation appropriate action will be taken against whoever is at fault, even as the students chose to continue their sit-in protest at the Rukmini Devi College of Fine Arts “until they got the justice they deserved.”
While responding to the issue raised by legislators of various political parties in the State Assembly during the zero hour, Stalin said that a team comprising revenue officials and police personnel was dispatched to hold talks with the protesting students on Friday morning.
Subsequently, a team of police led by a woman cop has been deployed to extend protection to the students.
The management of Kalakshetra, which comes under the Central government, following the students’ protests on Thursday night ordered to shut down the institution and asked the students to vacate the hostels. However, the students stay put on campus demanding justice.
“So far, the State police has received no written complaint,” Stalin further added.
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.
The students of Kalakshetra Foundation continued their overnight sit-in protest on the campus for the second consequent day 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.