IIT-Madras canteen employee arrested after student’s sexual harassment complaint

The student had said that she was attacked while she was on her way to the hostel on the night of July 24.
Silhouette of a woman against the backdrop of IIT Madras
Silhouette of a woman against the backdrop of IIT Madras
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A 24-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the sexual harassment of a student within the campus of IIT Madras. The student was allegedly attacked by an unknown man, while she was on her way to the hostel, on the night of July 24. After her friend brought the issue to the notice of the management and police, he has been identified as Chandan Kumar, a worker in the institute’s canteen.

Kumar has been booked under section 354 (Assault of criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and section 4 (Penalty for harassment of woman) of Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Harassment of Woman Act.

The student was returning to her hostel on her cycle on July 24, when she was waylaid and allegedly attacked by Kumar — whose identity was then unknown — and he had then tried to sexually assault her. At the time, IIT-Madras had faced a lot of flak over its response to the student’s sexual harassment complaint. The survivor’s friend had suggested that the attacker could have been an employee on the campus, and had said that the employees must not be allowed to access the student zones without supervision. 

However, the IIT Madras dean’s response to the survivor’s sexual harassment complaint sparked a big furore among students of the institution. The dean’s email to the students imposed curbs on the students’ movements within the campus, where he suggested informing the laboratory incharge or obtain permission to visit labs outside working hours, following a buddy system and availing bus service if they were returning late and to move around with friends to avoid untoward incident/accident. The mail to the students had also said that it was “challenging to maintain safety/security in campus spread over 600+ acres and with a large forest area.”

The students questioned this, saying that the management was shifting the responsibility onto the students and is failing to maintain the safety and security of students on the campus.

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