Tamil Nadu: Chairman of private medical college arrested for alleged sexual harassment of student
Virudhunagar: The chairman of a private medical college in Virudhunagar, Tamil Nadu has been arrested after a complaint was filed by a student accusing the chairman of sexual harassment and mental torture. The accused has been identified as Daswin John Grace, who is the chairman of Arasu Electro Homeopathy Medical College and Hospital located in Aruppukottai. He is also the...
Virudhunagar: The chairman of a private medical college in Virudhunagar, Tamil Nadu has been arrested after a complaint was filed by a student accusing the chairman of sexual harassment and mental torture.
The accused has been identified as Daswin John Grace, who is the chairman of Arasu Electro Homeopathy Medical College and Hospital located in Aruppukottai. He is also the president of the district BJP Minority Morcha.
A private video of the accused with the student was circulating within the college, following which the students staged a protest demanding the immediate arrest of John, as per a media report in The News Minute.
A student filed a complaint and an FIR was filed against Daswin on Saturday, June 11, at the Aruppukottai All Women Police Station. The complainant alleged that the chairman sent her lewd messages and subsequently tricked her into sending him messages.
The student had kept a recorded private video call that she had with Daswin. When her friends found out about the video on her phone, she told them about the alleged harassment. Her friends subsequently copied the video to their phones to keep it safe.
The student said, "We then went to one of our teachers for help, but they tried to delete the video. So we circulated it to everyone to keep it safe," adding that the survivor's visual had been blurred in the circulated video in order to protect her identity.
South Zone Inspector General of Police Asra Garg told TNM that the student had complained that Daswin had tricked her into exchanging lewd messages. He added, "We are looking into whether there are any other students who have similar complaints of harassment. If yes, they can approach us, and even if no one is, we will be actively looking to see whether there is a bigger pattern."
Some students said that there have been sexual harassment allegations against him in the past as well, but no one had filed a complaint. The student alleged, "This is the first time we have solid evidence. The survivor belongs to SC (Scheduled Castes) community and is economically poor. According to her complaint, he had asked her to pay the fees and she explained about her family's economic situation. He then asked her to do whatever he said, and she complied out of fear and pressure."
Another student said that they are hopeful about more students coming out to speak, stating, "As one girl spoke out, others are also disclosing their uncomfortable experiences. Today, we staged a protest with three demands – he should be charged with non-bailable offences, we should be handed over all our original certificates and all of us should be transferred to another college."
Garg told News9 that the accused was immediately arrested based on the girl's complaint, with the investigations currently ongoing to determine if there is any other similar pattern of this crime. He said, "We have noticed that there was a letter allegedly written by girl students of this college who have made similar allegations against the accused a few months back. We will look into that as well."
Daswin was charged under sections 354A(2) (sexual harassment and punishment for sexual harassment), 354B (assault or use of criminal force to woman with intent to disrobe), 354C (voyeurism) and 506(i) (punishment for criminal intimidation) of the IPC and section 4 (the penalty for harassment of woman) of Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Harassment of Woman Act and section 3(i)(w)(ii) (punishments for offences atrocities) of The SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
Earlier in 2017, the Joint Director of Medical and Rural Health Services and Family Welfare had shut the institute stating that it had no approval or affiliation to the college and lacked basic amenities. The police said, "The college has produced some certificates claiming they have an affiliation to certain boards and universities. The police will verify these claims."
The Hindu reports that the Virudhunagar East BJP unit president, Pentagon G. Pandurangan said that Daswin was removed from the party post three months back for not properly discharging his party work. After the incident was reported, the president said in a statement that he was removed from the party's primary membership.
Revu is currently pursuing her masters from University of Hyderabad. With a background in journalism, she joined Medical Dialogues in 2021.