The Adyar all-woman police in Chennai stated that they have arrested Hari Padman, the dance professor of Kalakshetra Foundation’s Rukmini Devi College of Fine Arts who has been accused of sexual harassment.
The city police had earlier booked cases against Padman under Indian Penal Code Sections 354A (sexual harassment) and 509 (use of acts intended to insult the modesty of a woman) along with Section 4 of Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act based on multiple complaints from female students of the college.
He is among four faculty members accused of sexual harassment at the prestigious institution. Padman and a group of Kalakshetra students had been in Hyderabad on Friday to attend a Bharatanatyam arangetram. The students returned to the college yesterday morning, but Padman went missing.
The police traced him through his phone to a friend’s residence at Madhavaram, where he was arrested.
The Tamil Nadu Women’s Commission today asked the director of Kalakshetra Foundation not to allow the three other faculty members accused of sexual harassment inside the college premises. In a press meet, the Chair of the Commission AS Kumari said that the action has been taken in view of the examination that will be conducted for the students.
Kumari also said that she has asked for the IC (Internal Committee) documents and complaints filed in the past ten years, and a further probe will be conducted once going through them.
Hari Padman and the other accused are well known among followers of Indian arts in Singapore because of the fformer's performance in Anjaneyam in Kalaa Utsavam 2017. The four accused have been involved in multiple collaborations with one of Singapore's leading performing arts institutes, the Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society (SIFAS).
A Twitter Spaces session yesterday titled '#Kalakshetra: The other side & truth' conducted by Sandhya Ravishankar, the editor of The Lede, also came out in support of Padman.
Last week, students at the Rukmini Devi College of Fine Arts staged a protest demanding action against four senior male faculty members accused of sexual harassment. Amid the protests, the Kalakshetra Foundation announced the closure of the campus until April 6.
AS Kumari, chairperson of the Tamil Nadu State Women’s Commission, visited the institution on Friday and said that the State Commission for Women would evaluate around 90 written complaints she received before submitting a report to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin by today.
Yesterday, a team of the Tamil Nadu Police went to Kerala to record the statements of witnesses in the sexual harassment case against Padman, police added.