#MeToo in India: Kannada actress Sruthi Hariharan files sexual harassment complaint against Arjun Sarja

Indo-Asian News Service

October 28, 2018 15:31:46 IST

Kannada film actress Sruthi Hariharan on 27 October filed a sexual harassment case with the police against actor Arjun Sarja in Bengaluru, a week after she had named him on the social media.

"We have registered an FIR (First Information Report) and booked the accused (Arjun) under various sections of the IPC on a complaint Sruthi filed at the Cubbon Park police station through her lawyer," Deputy Commissioner of Police (Central) D. Devaraj told reporters in Bengaluru.

(L) Sruthi Hariharan; (R) Arjun Sarda. Images via Facebook

(L) Sruthi Hariharan; (R) Arjun Sarda. Images via Facebook

Sruthi, 29, had named Arjun, 54, in her Facebook post on 20 October, accusing him of sexually harassing her on the sets of a Kannada film in 2016. She also referred to two other incidents in November and December of 2015 in her complaint.

"Sruthi has accused Arjun of making unwelcome sexual advances, gestures to outrage her modesty and criminal intimidation over a period of time. We will investigate the case as per the provisions of the law," said Devaraj.

Recalling the ordeal she underwent during the shooting of the Kannada film Vismaya in November 2015, Sruthi said that during the rehearsal, Arjun amorously started cuddling, touching her hips and thighs, and moving his hands up to her bra.

"I took exception to Arjun's inappropriate behaviour at the rehearsal. I silently suffered and was unable to express as I was an upcoming artiste while he was a senior, with clout in the industry and power corridors," said Sruthi in her complaint.

Though Sruthi approached the director and told him that she could not work like this, nothing happened.

"There was another scene where we were supposed to lie on a bed together. Taking advantage of the situation, he pulled my hand, forcing me to come close to him, hug him, but I pushed his hand, finished the scene and came out of the set," Sruthi recounted.

Referring to a shooting schedule in a city hospital in December 2015, Sruthi said Arjun repeatedly made advances involving unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures, and asked her to join after shooting in his private place, saying "we can spend private time together."

On 18 July, 2016, when Sruthi went to UB City in Bengaluru's upscale shopping arcade for a shoot of Vismaya, Arjun walked behind her in the lobby, held her back hard and told her "why are you waiting alone at the lobby, why don't you accompany me to my room, I am alone too, we will have some fun," as per the complaint.

Sruthi thought of taking a legal action against Arjun on several occasions, but could not muster courage as she was an upcoming artiste and feared it could jeopardise her career.

"When I noticed the #MeToo movement gaining momentum where artistes like me who had suffered sexual harassment and who could not vent it out, I found it as a platform to express my ordeal too," she added.

Updated Date: Oct 28, 2018 15:31 PM