Kalakshetra sexual harassment case: Opposite sides lock horns on Twitter

People on the opposite sides of the Kalakshetra sexual harassment controversy have now locked horns on Twitter, the social network where a discussion was held recently in order to bring out voices of students and former students who felt that they were not being heard.

Over the past 24 hours, a lot of activity has been seen on the Twitter account of ‘Believeinkarma’ (Twitter handle @karmayogi_06), who shared an April 10 news report by The New Indian Express about her trauma. She said, both in the Twitter Spaces discussion and in the newspaper report, that she had been labelled the “mistress” of senior faculty member and principal dancer Hari Padman (arrested last week) by a former director of Kalakshetra Foundation, a fact that had damaged her reputation, career, and mental health.

Taking part in the Twitter Spaces discussion as @karmayogi_06, she had said that this false label was, in her case, the real sexual harassment she had faced at Kalakshetra. Today’s TNIE article has her speaking along the same lines.

In the latest series of her Twitter posts — numbered 1, 2, 3, and so on, they refute a News Minute report on the controversy — @karmayogi_06 has claimed:  “The main gossips in Kalakshetra are Nirmala Nagarajan, Nandini Nagaraj, Indu Nideesh & Rekha Menon.”

Incidentally, Nirmala and Nandini (also spelt in some media reports as “Nandhini”) are the two teachers named, as instigators of a false sexual harassment complaint against Hari Padman, in the counter complaint lodged with Chennai Police by his wife Divya Hari Padman.

War of words

Reacting to the numbered points listed by @karmayogi_06 on her Twitter account, which was set up in March 2023, a user named Priya (Twitter handle @Pitysoulgod) posted: “U opened this acc just to support abusers?” To that, @karmayogi_06 responded: “I started this account to support the truth.”

Their argument continued. @Pitysoulgod retorted: “U mean to say all girls and boys out there are spreading mendacious propaganda and u faceless open account last week for truth?” This was a reference to the fact the Twitter account of @karmayogi_06 had no display picture.

To this accusation of being “faceless”, @karmayogi_06 replied: “Are you from Kalakshetra? Have [you] any clue what the atmosphere inside the campus is? I am there for seven years and people know me by my face. Why should I reveal myself to someone who doesn’t even bother to see the other side?”

The former student continued tweeting, and wrote: “Im the real framed victim of sexual harrasment who was tortured for 4 months. Students were narrated with stories after stories abt me and the accused teacher. I was humiliated fr months by these teachers (sic).”

On April 7, @karmayogi_06 had retweeted a photograph that apparently showed students having a meal together at the house of accused teacher Hari Padman. Referring to this peaceful scene, @karmayogi_06 wrote: “Sir’s house is always open to all his students. Divya chechi always tell us this. Its heart breaking to see the damage caused to them by the media. Shame on media (sic).”