South Indian actor Arjun Sarja, who has been accused of sexually harassing actor Sruthi Hariharan, appeared before the Cubbon Park Police on Monday for questioning in connection with the case.
Sruthi had accused Arjun of sexually harassing her during the shoot for the Sandalwood film Vismaya (Nibunan in Tamil).
According to the Cubbon Park police, Arjun was asked over 50 questions by investigating officer Annayya Reddy regarding the incidents described by Sruthi in her complaint. â€śBased on the statements given by Sruthi Hariharan and her make-up artiste Kiran and also assistant director Monica, he was questioned about the series of events,â€ť the Cubbon Park Police said.
Arjun allegedly denied all accusations and stated that the allegations were made intentionally to malign his reputation. â€śHe said that he did not behave inappropriately with Sruthi and that the entire episode was orchestrated to malign his reputation,â€ť the police added.
Arjun was accompanied by BJP MLC Tejaswini Ramesh to the Cubbon Park Station. MLC Tejaswini told the media that she had come to support Arjun of her own volition and that she was not here as a representative of the party.
â€śThere are some left-leaning people who are trying to target Prime Minister Modi by targeting Arjun Sarja. Arjunâ€™s father was an RSS man and Arjun too is an ardent devotee of Lord Anjaneya. The police must take it into consideration that those rallying behind Sruthi have communist connections. Prakash Raj, actor Chetan and Kavita Lankesh are all against Prime Minister Modi. They have got together to conspire against Arjun Sarja,â€ť Tejaswini told the media outside the Cubbon Park Police Station.
Several of Arjun Sarjaâ€™s fans had gathered outside Cubbon Park Police Station. Arjunâ€™s fans also clashed with the police when asked to leave the premises.
â€śThey wanted to stay till he came out. A few officers asked them leave and there was a minor verbal altercation,â€ť the police said.
Police officials say that the director of the film Vismaya, Arun Vaidhyanath, supported Arjun and stated that he had not witnessed any such incident during the shoot of the film.
â€śArun Vaidhyanath, the producer Umesh, executive producer Arinith and cinematographer Arvind Krishna have also given their statements. They maintain that Arjun did not sexually harass Sruthi,â€ť the police added.
Arjun Sarja was expected to appear before the Cubbon Park Police Station for questioning after the Karnataka High Court had directed police not to arrest him until November 14.
The multilingual actor had approached the HC after Cubbon Park police registered a FIR under sections 354 (assault or criminal force on a woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 354A (sexual harassment) and 506 (criminal intimidation) based on Sruthiâ€™s complaint on October 27.
The Karnataka State Commission for Women has taken suo motu cognisance of the complaints made by Sruthi and asked the City Police Commissioner T Suneel Kumar to submit a report on the investigation. This after Sruthi posted a long Facebook message on October 20 that detailed an allegation of
sexual assault by Arjun Sarja during the rehearsal of a romantic scene at the set.
"I reached the set around 7:30 am and continued up to 6 pm. On the day, as per the script, we needed to hug after a particular dialogue, After the scene was over, there was rehearsal as desired by the director. During rehearsal, Arjun Sarja began cuddling, touching my hips, moving up to my bra, bringing the movement of the hand down to my hip and further down to my thigh. I took exception that he behaved inappropriately and out of context. I silently suffered and was unable to express it since I am an upcoming artist. Apart from that, he was a senior established artist having clout in the film industry," she stated in her complaint.
She added that the sexual harassment continued, with Arjun Sarja suggesting changes to the scene. "Before I could react, he again pulled me very close and moved his hand behind my back, asking the director 'whether we can improvise like this in the scene.' I immediately went to the director and told him I cannot work like this as all his gestures/acts are intended to insult my modesty and all his advances, physical contact is nothing but explicit sexual overtures. Unable to be consoled, I rushed to the caravan and started weeping," she had stated