#MeToo: Sruthi Hariharan Records Statement in Arjun Sarja Case
Sruthi Hariharan’s has complained against Sarja, accusing him of sexually harassing her on the sets of Vismaya
Actor Sruthi Hariharan, who has levelled charges of sexual harassment against south Indian actor Arjun Sarja, recorded her statement before the magistrate on Wednesday, 7 November.
Her statement comes two days after Sarja appeared before Bengaluru’s Cubbon Park Police for questioning in connection with the case.
Hariharan has lodged a complaint against Sarja, accusing him of sexually harassing her on the sets of the movie Vismaya. Denying all allegations against him, Sarja moved the Karnataka High Court seeking protection from arrest. Karnataka High Court had directed police not to arrest him until 14 November.
Arjun had approached the HC after Cubbon Park Police registered an FIR under sections 354 (assault or criminal force on a woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 354A (sexual harassment) and 506 (criminal intimidation) based on Hariharan’s complaint on 27 October.
The Karnataka State Commission for Women had taken suo motu cognisance of the complaints made by Hariharan and had asked the City Police Commissioner T Suneel Kumar to submit a report on the investigation.
On 20 October, Hariharan had posted a long Facebook message detailing the alleged sexual assault she faced from Arjun Sarja during the rehearsal of a romantic scene on the movie sets.
"I reached the set around 7:30 am and continued up to 6 pm. On the day, as per the script, we needed to hug after a particular dialogue. After the scene was over, there was rehearsal as desired by the director. During rehearsal, Sarja began cuddling, touching my hips, moving up to my bra, bringing the movement of the hand down to my hip and further down to my thigh,” Hariharan has stated in her complaint.
“I took exception that he behaved inappropriately and out of context. I silently suffered and was unable to express it since I am an upcoming artist. Apart from that, he was a senior established artist having clout in the film industry," she added.
She added that the sexual harassment continued, with Sarja suggesting changes to the scene.
“Before I could react, he again pulled me very close and moved his hand behind my back, asking the director ‘whether we can improvise like this in the scene’,” she said.
“I immediately went to the director and told him I cannot work like this as all his gestures/acts are intended to insult my modesty, and all his advances, physical contact is nothing but explicit sexual overtures. Unable to be consoled, I rushed to the caravan and started weeping," she said.
(Published in an arrangement with The News Minute)
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