The Chennai police arrested an IIT-Madras research scholar, the main accused in a sexual assault case, from Kolkata in West Bengal on Monday morning. Kingshuk Debsharma, one of the eight accused in the case, was arrested following a complaint filed by his co-scholar, a 30-year-old Dalit woman.
The victim’s complaint stated that she was sexually and mentally harassed between 2016 and 2020. Currently kept under the custody of Diamond Harbour police station in Kolkata, the accused will be produced before a local magistrate before being taken to Chennai.
The victim’s first complaint, alleging assault and incidents of harassment since she joined the course in 2016, was filed in March 2020. But the police filed the first information report (FIR) only three months later.
The complaint stated that the victim was raped, faced sexual harassment, threats, emotional manipulation and psychological abuse. However, the police are now facing charges for dropping rape charges and the sections under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, when they had filed the FIR.
The victim’s complaint said she was sexually abused, allegedly in Coorg in 2018, during a tour with her co-scholars. The complaint also said she was disrobed and filmed in the lab on the campus.
The police said that the FIR was filed under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 354B (assault or use of unlawful force to woman with intent to disrobe), 354C (voyeurism) and 506(1) (punishment for criminal intimidation). “The complaint said it has been happening since 2016. We are yet to gather material evidence. The probe is on now, necessary charges will be added,” said an officer.
The interim report of the Complaint Committee Against Sexual Harassment (CCASH) at IIT Madras, following a complaint by the victim before she approached the police, had also found Debsharma and three others guilty. The findings of the CCASH included that Debsharma had verbally and physically abused the victime twice, while three others faced charges for aiding his acts. Noting the vulnerable state of the victim, the CCASH had also banned the entry of the accused until the submission of her thesis.