The Crime Branch-CID of the Tamil Nadu Police has taken over the investigation into the sexual harassment allegations against Special Director General of Police (Law and Order) Rajesh Das, The Hindu reported on Sunday. The complaint was filed by a woman police officer last week.
There are reports that a first information report was registered in connection with the complaint. However, there is no official confirmation yet. According to India Today, the FIR names Das and Chengalpattu Superintendent of Police D Kannan. The latter has been accused of preventing the woman from filing an official complaint against Das. Both Das and Kannan have been booked under Section 354 (outraging modesty of a woman) of the IPC along with sections 3 and 4 of the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Harassment of Women Act.
The complainant accused Das of behaving inappropriately with her in his vehicle on February 22. The incident reportedly took place while the woman was on duty during Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami’s visit to some districts in central Tamil Nadu.
There are reports that some fellow officers attempted to dissuade the woman from filing a complaint. The woman was warned, coerced and even stopped by at least three police officials when she was on her way to file the complaint, reported The News Minute. Kannan even forced her to talk to the accused officer over phone, according to The Hindu.
Later, Kannan told The New Indian Express that Das had instructed him to stop the woman officer’s vehicle. He also claimed that he was unaware of any “bad blood between them”, reported India Today. Das on the other hand has denied all allegations against him. “Don’t you know that it was a false complaint, that it was political?” he told The Indian Express. “Why don’t you wait till the outcome of the inquiry? Don’t you know that you are not supposed to write about this case?”
After the complaint, Das was excluded from meetings related to the security cover for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Coimbatore on February 25. He was also put on “compulsory waiting”, meaning Das will not be given any assignments for a particular time period, reported The News Minute.
The allegations came to light after the Tamil Nadu government’s home department on February 24 set up a six-member inquiry committee to look into the complaint. Jayashree Raghunandan, the secretary of planning and development department of the state, has been named the presiding officer of the committee. Apart from Raghunandan, IPS officers Seema Agarwal, A Arun, VK Ramesh Babu, B Shamoondeswari and Loretta Jhona of the International Justice Mission, are part of the committee.
“The committee shall take necessary further course of action as per the provisions of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 on the said complaint,” read the order issued by Home Secretary SK Prabakar.
The matter quickly snowballed into a tool for political mudslinging in poll-bound Tamil Nadu. Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader Kanimozhi first tweeted on the incident criticising the state government. “The protector also needs protection during ADMK [Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam] rule,” she had tweeted. “When a woman IPS officer is sexually harassed by a higher ranked officer and the CM takes no notice of it, what hope do ‘ordinary’ women have in this regime?” DMK chief and Leader of the Opposition in the state MK Stalin had accused the ruling party of “shielding such officers” and called it shameful.
The Tamil Nadu IPS Association had issued a statement in solidarity with the woman officer after she filed the complaint, reported The News Minute. “The Tamil Nadu IPS Association has noted with grave concern the complaint of sexual harassment by one of its lady officers against a senior officer,” read the statement. “The association stands in solidarity against any harassment at the workplace.”