The panchayat also fined parai artiste Sakthi, who is the husband of anti-caste activist Gowsalya, Rs 3 lakh for 'abandoning' his former girlfriend.

Panchayat of Dravidian leaders questions parai artiste Sakthi over harassment allegations
news Controversy Thursday, January 03, 2019 - 13:28

Weeks after allegations of harassment against parai artiste Sakthi surfaced online, a panchayat of Dravidian leaders has imposed a fine of Rs 3 lakh, to be paid within six months, for his ‘transgressions’ against his former girlfriend. A meeting conducted by Tamil Desiya Viduthalai Iyakkam(TDVI) General Secretary Bharathi, TDVI Core Committee Member Thyagu and Dravidar Viduthalai Kazhagam (DVK) leader Kolathur Mani also ‘faulted’ anti-caste activist and his wife Gowsalya for not condemning Sakthi’s behaviour.

A meeting was conducted on December 27 at the DVK office in Coimbatore. The meeting included Sakthi and Gowsalya as well as those who had levelled allegations against Sakthi. The primary allegation against Sakthi is him having been in a relationship with an unnamed woman and ‘abandoning’ her for Gowsalya. While the meeting acknowledged that Sakthi is free to change partners, the allegation states that he went back and forth between the unnamed woman and Gowsalya. "This has caused the woman physical, mental and emotional stress," said a statement from Thyagu and Kolathur Mani.

The meeting also 'faulted' Gowsalya for failing to condemn the actions of Sakthi. The meeting alleges that Gowsalya failed to act since she was in love Sakthi and wanted to marry him.

The allegations were made on social media soon after Gowsalya and Sakthi got married at the Thanthai Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam office in December 2018. The allegations were used to slut-shame Gowsalya and took a vitriolic turn online. Those involved in the meeting have said that the enquiry was to put an end to all the rumour-mongering online.

The second allegation against Sakthi states that he reportedly harassed women at Nimirvu, the theatre troupe run by him. The allegation states that he abused his power as a teacher at the theatre troupe to misbehave with women and a trans woman.

Others who assisted the meeting included Selvi of Manithi, a women's rights group, student activist Valarmathi, and Parthiban of the Anti-Imperialist Forum.

The meeting came to the conclusion that the unnamed woman had been treated badly, holding Sakthi responsible for the same. However, the meeting also acknowledged that it had no legal mechanism to enforce its ‘verdict.’

Stating that Sakthi accepted allegations against him (with regard to the unnamed woman) and Gowsalya too admitted to her 'mistake', the meeting noted that there weren't varying differences in the statements of the unnamed woman and Sakthi and Gowsalya. However, Sakthi reportedly denied other allegations against him, providing an ‘explanation’ for the same.

Sakthi was asked to apologise publicly for his transgressions, which he reportedly did at the venue of the meeting. Sakthi was also asked to leave Nimirvu and not play the parai at any public function for six months.

According to members at the meeting, the woman who had allegedly been harassed refused to accept the Rs 3 lakh that was imposed as a fine on Sakthi. It is unclear if Sakthi agreed to pay the fine or to not play the parai at public functions for six months.  

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