A 20-year-old theatre aspirant has alleged that a guest professor at Delhi’s National School of Drama (NSD) molested her during an entrance exam in July. The accused, professor Suresh Shetty, teaches ‘body movements’ and used to be the Dean (Academics) of NSD.
According to police, Shetty (65) has been questioned after the girl filed an FIR on August 1. Police said the FIR was registered by the woman at Tilak Marg police station, a week after the alleged incident took place. DCP (New Delhi) Madhur Verma said a case has been registered under IPC Section 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty).
The woman had applied for a three-year diploma course in Dramatic Arts at the NSD, and was shortlisted after an interview for the next round of the exam, conducted by Shetty.
“The girl told us that every student had to stand in a different pose and Shetty would then examine the poses… in the course of that, she alleged, he touched her inappropriately,” a police officer said, adding that the girl told them she did not clear that stage.
Shetty has been associated with NSD, a theatre training institute set up in 1959, for more than three decades as a student, repertory actor, assistant teacher, professor, and the dean of academics for three years starting 2013. He retired two years ago and, according to a friend, is a visiting faculty member at NSD. He specialises in ‘body movements’, have done Sanskrit plays and is adept in dance forms such as Kathakali.
“During questioning, Shetty denied all charges and said the exam took place in a hall inside NSD where at least two dozen aspirants were also present. The statements of these aspirants will be recorded to ascertain the sequence of events,” said a police officer.
Despite several calls, NSD did not issue a statement or comment on the issue, while Shetty, too, remained unreachable. However, an NSD official did confirm that “an internal inquiry in the matter has been ordered, and is being led by Tripurari Sharma, professor of acting at NSD”.