Popular theatre actor and professor Sudipto Chatterjee has been accused of sexual harassment, NDTV reported on Thursday. The complainant – a student at privately-run Heritage College in Kolkata – alleged that the incident took place in March at Chatterjee’s home.
Chatterjee resigned as faculty member of the college on October 15, a day after the student filed her complaint with the college authorities. However, the matter came to light on Wednesday after she shared details of the incident on social media. On Thursday, students protested on the college campus to demand justice for the woman.
The woman alleged that Chatterjee called her to his place to help her with her act in a play, but then touched her inappropriately. “I have not filed an FIR as of now,” she wrote on Facebook. “The institute has constituted an ICC [Internal Complaints Committee] and I am cooperating with it. I will also raise the matter with the women’s commission.”
The woman alleged that Chatterjee was a serial offender. She added that she and other women would file a joint police complaint. At least two other women have also shared details of the abuse on social media. A woman said Chatterjee had invited her to his home for voice exercises after sending a message that it would involve physical touch. Another woman said she stopped working in Bengali theatre “as I was terribly distressed with everything I have faced”.
The student said she was upset with the way the college authorities handled the situation. She added that Chatterjee should not have been allowed to resign.
The college authorities have not issued a statement yet. “We have told our student she must file a police complaint and we will support her with all the documentation she needs from us,” an unidentified college official told NDTV.
However, the institution reconstituted its internal complaints committee on Thursday, reported NDTV. The earlier committee did not have a student representative – a mandatory requirement as per the guidelines of the University Grants Commission.
Chatterjee called the allegation “a case of distortion and misrepresentation of facts”. He claimed he was innocent. “It was completely educational and consensual,” he told The Indian Express. “There was nothing sexual about it. It was about training and allowing her to get deeper in the role she was portraying in a play. It was geared towards the success and improvement of the play.”
Chatterjee used to teach film and theatre to media science students at the college. Earlier, he has taught at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi and Centre for Studies in Social Sciences in Kolkata. He has delivered lectures at the National School of Drama in Delhi. Chatterjee has also taught at a couple of foreign universities in the United States.
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