IIT Madras canteen worker arrested in student sexual assault case
The Chennai Police has arrested a canteen worker at IIT Madras for allegedly sexually assaulting a student on the campus premises last month. The 24-year-old juice shop worker was arrested after the student filed a complaint with the institute's administration. According to the student, the man tried to harass her on the night of July 24 when she was returning to her hostel.
The Chennai Police confirmed they have arrested the accused Chandran Kumar under IPC Section 354 (assault with an intent to outrage woman's modesty) and the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Harassment of Women Act. Kumar was working at a juice shop inside the campus. He is under police custody and has been produced in court. The arrest comes over a week after the student's complaint.
Kumar reportedly attacked the student on campus while she was on her way to the hostel on her bicycle late on July 24. He then allegedly sexually assaulted her near IIT-M's New Academic Complex. The student—who was injured—somehow managed to fight him off and escape with a broken cycle. Two days later, her friend filed a complaint with the Dean of Students via email.
The IIT-M administration reportedly began an investigation as soon as they received the complaint by screening CCTV footage and sharing photos of 300 people who matched the assailant's description. They also screened 35 contract laborers on duty that night. The staff informed the police about the incident only after the accused was identified, as the student did not want to file a complaint earlier.
Responding to the complaint, the Dean of Students listed "certain protocols" that must be "meticulously followed by students to ensure their safety," The Quint reported. Apart from suggesting that students take prior permission to use labs outside working hours, the mail asked students to move inside the campus with friends. "It's challenging to maintain security in a 600+ acres campus," the Dean said.
Meanwhile, many students are concerned about moral policing on the IIT-M campus. "It is unavoidable to work late in the lab," a research scholar told The Quint. A third-year IIT-M student also mentioned that a day after the incident, when she was sitting at Gajendra Circle with a friend, a security guard asked them to leave owing to the "recent incident of sexual harassment."