National award winner Guru Syed Sallauddin Pasha, pioneer of therapeutic theatre who trains disabled children in dance forms, was arrested on Sunday for allegedly molesting and sexually assaulting one of his students, police said.
Pasha, who owns Ability Unlimited Foundation, was arrested after the student lodged a complaint at East Delhi’s Madhu Vihar police station.
Last December, Pasha’s wife Rani Khanam had filed a complaint of domestic violence against him, only to withdraw it, citing family pressure. But on Saturday, she again complained to police, alleging that she was assaulted by Pasha.
“I was under mental stress, I would explain to him that he is moving away from artistic ideals. He said I am Guru Pasha and will live my life the way I want to, that’s what I have done and will keep doing. I would look at my daughter and bear things, but for how long? I decided to come out with it and expose his real face behind the name and fame,” Khanam said.
Khanam is a celebrated Kathak dancer and winner of a national award. According to the complaint of the student, Pasha allegedly sexually abused disabled girls, minors and women artistes at his foundation. The differently abled students did not complain to police as they came from very unstable economic backgrounds, some were children of rag-pickers and domestic helps, and were completely dependent on Pasha for daily wages, the complaint stated.
Pasha was arrested on Sunday morning as he prepared to leave for Bangalore. Police said two FIRs have been registered against Pasha on the basis of charges levelled against him by his student and wife. “The student alleged that Pasha sexually assaults minors on the pretext of healing them. According to the complaint, he often addresses students as his daughters and molests them. The complainant said she even has a video tape, in which a disabled student alleges that while touring Bangalore for a stage show, Pasha forced her to share a room and then sexually assaulted her,” a police officer said, quoting the complaint.
According to the girl, she did not complain earlier as she was worried about how people would react, but decided to tell the authorities after he continued to outrage the modesty of girls. Police will now question other students at the foundation. “We have still not received an official complaint from other students, but since it is a very serious allegation, we have initiated an inquiry,” the officer said. The foundation run by Pasha is an organisation which trains and empowers wheelchair-bound persons. At the foundation, Pasha trains students in Bharatnatyam, yoga and Sufi dances on wheels among other forms.