Kalakshetra Foundation on Tuesday said it had constituted a Committee of Inquiry led by a retired judge to investigate the sexual harassment allegations made by students against an assistant professor of dance and three repertory artists. The teacher has been suspended and the services of the repertory artists have been “dispensed with” pending inquiry.
The panel is led by retired judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court Justice K Kannan and also comprises former Tamil Nadu DGP Letika Saran and Dr Shobha Varthaman (a medical doctor who has worked with international NGOs), the foundation said.
“Hari Padman, Assistant Professor, has been placed under suspension with immediate effect, pending inquiry. The services of Sanjith Lal, Sai Krishnan and Sreenath, repertory artists, may be dispensed with immediate effect, pending inquiry,” the Board of the prestigious institution said in a press release.
Police on April 3 arrested Hari Padman, who worked as an Assistant Professor of Dance at Kalakshetra Foundation’s Rukmini Devi College of Fine Arts in Chennai.
These steps were taken after some students of the college accused Hari Padman and the three repertory artists Sanjith Lal, Sai Krishnan and Sreenath of sexual harassment, and protested against the management over their inaction in the past few days.
The release also said that a new student counsellor and an independent advisory committee would be appointed immediately to strengthen the administration of Kalakshetra Foundation. The decisions were taken at a board meeting of the Foundation.
Making an appeal to students to attend the rescheduled examinations, the Board said, “Kalakshetra Foundation is fully committed to ensuring the safety and security of its students, and providing a secure and inclusive environment for all.” Dravidar Kazhagam (DK) President K Veeramani on Tuesday criticised the institution for constituting a panel on its own to look into the allegations of sexual harassment of students on its premises, saying law and order fell under the state government’s purview.
The foundation’s setting up of a committee on its own has led to questions and suspcion, the top leader of the DK, the parent outfit of the ruling DMK, said in a statement.
K Veeramani said there was apprehension whether the setting up of the panel was a diversionary tactic and if it was an attempt at “whitewashing” the issue.
He urged the Tamil Nadu government to pay special attention to the matter.
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