Since May, numerous allegations of sexual harassment, abuse and misconduct against teachers across schools in Chennai and Tamil Nadu have surfaced. Six persons have been arrested so far.

A stylised image of students sitting in a classroom facing a screen with a teacher in the front of the roomImage for representation/ PTI
news Me Too Saturday, June 26, 2021 - 19:04

In May, amid conversations about casteist jokes by stand-up comedians on Twitter, several allegations of sexual harassment against a teacher at a branch of Padma Sheshadri Bala Bhavan (PSBB) in Chennai came up. After a complaint was filed and the teacher was arrested, a barrage of sexual harassment, abuse and misbehaviour allegations followed against teachers across educational institutions in the city and other districts in Tamil Nadu as well. Though survivors alleged sexual harassment against several teachers and named many institutions, so far, six people have been arrested under various sections of the law, including the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. 

G Rajagopalan: After the floodgate of sexual harassment allegations in Chennai schools opened, the first arrest that the police made was that of G Rajagopalan, a teacher at a branch of PSBB school in the city. Several current and former students accused him of misbehaviour and sexual harassment. On May 24, he was arrested after a former and current student filed a complaint with the police. He was booked under sections of the POCSO Act, Indian Penal Code and IT Act, as he was also found guilty of misbehaving with students in online classes. Rajagopalan was also suspended by the school, although it denied hearing complaints about him previously. He is lodged in the Puzhal Central prison. On June 25, the Goondas Act was invoked against him, which means that the 59-year-old will not be allowed to apply for bail. Earlier, on June 5, his bail application was denied by a special POCSO court in Chennai. 

P Nagarajan: The head coach of a sports academy in Chennai and superintendent in the GST Commissionerate, P Nagarajan was arrested on May 28 based on the complaint of a 19-year-old woman whom he allegedly sexually harassed. The woman was trained by him from 2013 till 2020, she said. The coach would allegedly compel the woman to stay back after training and touch her inappropriately under the guise of physiotherapy. He allegedly tried to end his life when he learned about the sexual harassment complaint against him and was taken to the Government Royapettah Hospital. He was presented in front of a court after being discharged from the hospital. 

Kebi Raj: Karate instructor Kebi Raj, who ran his own training institute in Chennai’s Anna Nagar, was arrested on May 30 following a sexual assault complaint from a former student. Kebi Raj had previously worked in PSBB, but the complainant was not from there, investigating officers said. The incident based on which the complaint was filed took place in 2014, according to the police.  He has been booked under sections 376 r/w 511 (attempt to rape), 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Harassment of Woman Act. In June, Director General of Police Shankar Jiwal ordered a CB-CID probe against the 41-year-old. A few days ago, another woman from a foreign country reportedly filed a complaint against him as well. 

S Anna Durai: S Annadurai, a 52-year-old Physical Education teacher at the prominent Diwan Bahadur T Rangachariar (DBTR) National Higher Secondary School in Mayiladuthurai was detained by police on June 5. This was on the basis of a complaint by a 21-year-old former student who alleged he assaulted her three years ago. Annadurai was a teacher at the school for two decades. Though he was detained on June 5, he was not arrested then as nearly 30 students, teachers and alumni reportedly gathered at the Mayiladuthurai All Women's Police Station to protest his innocence. However, on June 7, the police received two more complaints from women who alleged they were harassed by Annadurai when they were students. Annadurai was then arrested and remanded to judicial custody on June 8 in Sirkazhi. The case was registered under the POCSO Act. 

Siva Sankar Baba: The founder of Sushil Hari International Residential School in Kelambakkam and self-styled godman Siva Sankar Baba had three first information reports (FIRs) filed against him by the Mamallapuram police. This was after multiple allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault surfaced against him. One survivor wrote in a testimony that he allegedly forced her to drink alcohol and watch porn, and “advised” her to have regular sex with him. He was arrested by the Chennai CB-CID in Delhi on June 16, after he reportedly went to Dehradun for heart surgery. The CB-CID team also arrested Sushmitha, an alumnus of the school, on June 18 for convincing some students to go to Siva Sankar Baba’s bungalow where the sexual abuse took place. 

J Anand: In May, several allegations of sexual harassment, molestation and blackmail surfaced on social media against J Anand, a former commerce teacher from Maharishi Vidya Mandir in Chennai.  The Maharishi Vidya Mandir Alumni student community also wrote a letter on May 26 to the Tamil Nadu Commission for Protection of Child Rights, the Tamil Nadu government, the State Commission of Women, and the school’s correspondent, demanding action against him. The school suspended him on May 28, and he was finally arrested on June 8 based on the complaint of a survivor and former student. Anand was brought before the magistrate on the same day of his arrest.  

On June 21, the Tamil Nadu government issued a set of guidelines on ensuring protection of students from sexual harassment and abuse. These include an advisory panel and safety audit for schools to ensure protection of students from sexual violence and protocol for conducting online classes. The state government said the norms would be applicable to all types of schools in Tamil Nadu.

“The swift action taken by the police has instilled faith in people. In one case, a victim was not sure whether to complain, we spoke for three days and then gave the person confidence. Proactively, we are working according to the order passed by the government. We are publicising the numbers of officers who people can contact. We take POCSO cases very seriously,” Shankar Jiwal, Tamil Nadu Director General of Police said. 

Read: ‘They knew, and they didn’t care’: Chennai schools’ #MeToo moment

Read: Assault to slut shaming, Chennai schools have been getting away with abuse for decades

Read: Casteism to sexual assault: Tracking all the allegations against Chennai schools

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