Amid escalating outrage over the sexual assault allegations against a teacher of prestigious Padma Seshadri Bala Bhavan (PSBB) school in Chennai, the city police department has on Monday arrested the teacher and slapped a case on him under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. The accused teacher Rajagopalan has been remanded under judicial custody for further investigations.
The arrest has come after several former and current students of the school had made a barrage of sexual allegations against him through their petition to the school management that was later published on social media, which sparked outrage against the school. There was a massive scale of criticism and demand to the school management to take action against the teacher, who had been working for two decades.
The Tamil Nadu School Education Department has sought an explanation from the school over the matter and on Monday evening, the school has suspended him. Later, the Chennai police had arrested Rajagopalan in the night hours of Monday and the police officials had also seized his laptop and mobile phone for investigation. According to reports, the accused teacher was arrested by Ashok Nagar All Women Police Station and he was arrested after several hours of questioning.
The police had initiated the action after complaints were received against the teacher. The police team headed by Deputy Commissioner of Police Jayalakshmi had gone to the school to investigate the matter following which they had brought the accused teacher, his wife, and his mother to the Vadapalani police station to interrogate them. The police then had seized the teacher's laptop and mobile phone.
As the teacher was accused of sending obscene messages and links to porn sites to the students through his mobile phone, the police had involved the cybercrime unit to retrieve the data that he had deleted from his mobile. After several hours of questioning, the Ashok Nagar police had arrested him and filed a case against him under sections 11 and 12 (Sexual Harassment of Children) of the POCSO Act 2012, sections 354(A) -Sexual Harassment and 509 (Insulting modesty of a woman) of IPC and Sections 67 (Punishment for publishing or transmitting of material containing sexually explicit in electronic form) of the Information Technology Act.
Following arresting the accused teacher, the police had initiated the drive to remand him. The police officials had produced Rajagopalan before Justice Mohammed Farooq of Chennai Mahila Court at his residence in Virugambakkam. After the hearing, the justice had directed the police to lodge Rajagopalan in the prison for 15 days till June 8 under judicial custody for further investigations. After the order of judicial custody, the police had taken Rajagopalan to Central Prison in Puzhal and lodged him in the prison.
The issue of sexual harassment has come to light after some of the former and current students of the school had petitioned the school management about the matter. They had sent a scathing letter to Dean Sheela Rajendra in which they had said that the accused teacher had regularly harassed girl students, sent links to the porn sites, asked embarrassing questions, and body shamed them.
In their letter, the students highlighted that when the parents of the affected students had complained to the school management that Rajagopal had inappropriately touched their children with sexual intent, the management had not taken any action against the accused teacher. The alumni had said that Rajagopal was also in charge of different classes through which he got access to students' mobile numbers and he used this access to send sexual comments and inappropriate links.
Rajagopal would also appear topless during online classes. The alumni had slammed the management for not directing actions against the accused teacher despite moving several complaints against him. The alumni had urged that Rajagopal should not be involved in any kind of academic activities including grading of test or exam papers. Demanding a fair and transparent probe from the child protection committee and action against the teacher, the alumni had asked the management to ensure that no adverse, penal, or retaliatory action be taken against the students who have raised the complaints.
As the outrage has escalated against the school, the management has on Monday suspended Rajagopal following the allegations. The management had however put out a statement to give itself a clean shit. In a statement, Dean Sheela Rajendra claimed that contrary to what is mentioned in the allegations have not been brought to the attention of the management in the past. She assured that the school would take all necessary steps to address issues in a free, fair, and transparent manner. She further asserted that the school had zero tolerance towards any behaviour that affected the physical, emotional, and psychological well-being of its students.
PSBB is founded by Rajalakshmi Parthasarathy, popularly known as Mrs YGP. Veteran actor YG Mahendran, who is the son of YGP, is a trustee of the PSBB Board and the educational institution has branches in KK Nagar, Nungambakkam, and Gerugambakkam. The accused teacher was working in KK Nagar's branch and was teaching accounts and business studies. PSBB is a popular school in Chennai affiliated with CBSE. Several notable figures including Oscar-winning music composer AR Rahman, Anirudh, GV Prakash, Saindavi, Harini, and Harish Raghavendra are alumni of the school.