The Kolkata Police on Friday arrested popular theatre actor and professor Sudipto Chatterjee for allegedly sexually harassing two women, The Indian Express reported. Chatterjee resigned as faculty member of the privately-run Heritage College in Kolkata on October 15, a day after a student filed a complaint of sexual harassment with the college authorities.
“Chatterjee has been arrested and will be produced in court on Saturday,” Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Murlidhar Sharma said. The police arrested him based on two complaints – one at the Phoolbagan police station and another at the Beliaghata station.
Deputy Commissioner (Southeast division) Debasmita Das also confirmed the arrest to the Hindustan Times but did not reveal any other details.
The matter came to light on Wednesday after the student 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 had written 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. Two other women had also shared details of the abuse on social media. one 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. While the college authorities did not immediately issue a statement, it reconstituted its internal complaints committee on Thursday. 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 had said. “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 taught at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi and the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences in Kolkata. Chatterjee has also taught at some foreign universities.