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HomeIndiaKalakshetra 'sexual harassment' row: College closed till 6 April after students protest

Kalakshetra ‘sexual harassment’ row: College closed till 6 April after students protest

Students demand suspension of assistant professor and 3 other senior repertory dancers. After day-long protests, college instructs hostellers to vacate, postpones exams.

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New Delhi: More than a hundred students of Chennai’s Rukmini Devi College for Fine Arts, Kalakshetra Foundation organised a silent sit-in protest under the college’s famous Banyan tree Thursday morning.

It took place a day after National Commission for Women (NCW) chairperson Rekha Sharma visited the campus and met with students in light of the recent allegations of sexual harassment on the campus, first reported by ThePrint.

Skipping their year-end examinations, the agitating students are demanding the immediate suspension of an assistant professor and three other senior repertory dancers. 

“We sent a complaint on 21 March to the internal committee, providing proof of senior dancers asking for massages, and even groping students. We want immediate suspension of these dancers,” a student said. 

Third-year graduation students and first-year post diploma students are steering the protest to demand action against the four accused. “The administration is asking us to sit for the exam, but unless the perpetrators are suspended we’re not going to do that,” said a protesting student. 

In videos accessed by ThePrint, students can be heard confronting the director. “You have not responded to our complaints, even though we approached you so many times,” a student can be heard saying in Tamil. 

Director Revathi Ramachandran addressed the students for more than 30 minutes, promising that the administration will take action. “We just want a safe space to voice our concerns!” a student can be heard saying in one of the videos accessed by ThePrint. 

Later in the evening, the Kalakshetra administration decided to shut the college with immediate effect and postpone exams, after the students carried out protests the entire day.

“Rukmini Devi College for Fine Arts will remain closed from 30.3.2023 (5:15 PM) to 6.4.2023. All inmates are requested to vacate the hostel within two days with immediate effect. Exams scheduled on these two dates are postponed. The new dates will be announced soon,” the circular signed by the college’s principal Pakala Ramdas read.

Not happy with NCW inquiry 

The agitating students and teachers were not happy with the way the inquiry was conducted by NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma. Sharma visited the campus Wednesday even as the Commission had rescinded its letter to the Tamil Nadu Police chief asking for inquiry into the matter. 

The students alleged that the administration created a threatening environment for them Wednesday. “Outside the room where Sharma was sitting, director madam was standing and asking us in an intimidating way if we’ve been molested or not. A lot of students who had things to say, especially those from the first-year batch, were sent back to the hostel,” a student complained. 

ThePrint reached out to Kalakshetra director Revathi Ramachandran about the allegations but she did not respond to queries send through WhatsApp.   

“There was a long line of teachers and students waiting to speak to the (NCW) chairperson, but she left in a hurry saying she has a flight to catch, and asked us to mail her our grievances,” a teacher told ThePrint. 

This is an updated version of the report.

 (Edited by Tony Rai)

Also Read: NCW seeks action from Tamil Nadu DGP against Kalakshetra teacher facing sexual harassment charge


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