Updated: March 3, 2021 9:26:31 am
A TAMIL NADU Special DGP facing allegations of sexual harassment from a woman IPS officer had made several attempts to hold her hand, had kissed her hand, made her sing, sent a strike force to stop her vehicle on the Trichy-Chennai highway, and even called her father-in-law to strike a compromise, according to her complaints made to senior government authorities.
The Madras High Court had on Monday taken suo motu notice of the alleged harassment, and is directly monitoring the case now being probed by the CB-CID. The court had also imposed restrictions on the media against naming the woman police officer and the accused Special DGP. On Tuesday, the CB-CID team started the investigation visiting witnesses — all senior IPS officers — and the victim, for their detailed statements and related evidence.
According to senior woman IPS officer’s written complaint, she was on “bandobust duty” in Karur district as part of the state Chief Minister’s visit on February 21. As the CM’s speech was in progress in the evening, the Special DGP told her she may accompany him in his vehicle to the next meeting place. They would then, in the Special DGP’s vehicle, visit two places where the CM was to hold meetings.
In between, the victim officer had informed her Personal Security Officer (PSO) to follow the Special DGP’s vehicle in which she was travelling.
During their journey from the third place to a point where she was supposed to be relieved from duty, the Special DGP offered her snacks kept in his car and gave her a pillow for headrest. Then he asked her to sing a song. Upon his insistence, she sang. Sitting to her left, he extended his right hand and asked for her hand. She thought it was for a handshake in appreciation, but he insisted for the other hand, and held on to her hand.
The complaint said he then started singing “for about 20 minutes”, lifted her hand and kissed. She told him she “wasn’t comfortable.” “He smiled and let go of it” and later he tried to catch hold of her hand again, upon which she said she “wasn’t comfortable and it was inappropriate.” During the journey, he showed a picture of hers he clicked during his earlier visit to her work place. He told her he saved it as his favourite picture on the phone. Before she got down from his vehicle, he made one more attempt to hold her hand.
The victim filed her first complaint before the head of the police force in Chennai a day after the incident. In another complaint, she gave details of the “criminal acts” she was subjected to on the second day when she travelled to Chennai to meet the DGP and the state Home Secretary.
The complaint said the Special DGP kept calling her that day but she didn’t pick. He sent her a message requesting her to call back. He also asked three IPS officers of equivalent rank to speak to her and make her cancel the trip to Chennai. Before reaching Chennai, her complaint said the Chengalpet SP, D Kannan, had stopped her car with the help of personnel from “striking force.”
“The Striking Force vehicle was stationed before my official car to stop me from proceeding forward,” she said in her complaint. They asked her driver and personal security officer (PSO) to get down from the car. “They took out the car keys and I was sitting inside the car alone feeling threatened for my life,” she wrote. “Kannan told me that Special DGP had asked him to block my car. I demanded to be allowed to go but he did not clear the way,” the complaint said.
Kannan insisted she speak to the special DGP on his phone. When she refused to speak, she was told she won’t be allowed to go. After five minutes, she took the call. “He started speaking and the first thing he said was ‘I will fall at your feet and apologise for my actions’,” she wrote in the complaint.
When she replied that she wanted to meet the Head of Police Force in Chennai and that he should ask Kannan to clear the way, Special DGP replied that “the conversation was being recorded and intelligence branch people were also listening so I should tell what had happened.”
“He told me that I am your friend, to which my reply was ‘We are not friends, I am (designation of the victim withheld), and you are Special DGP’. He said, ‘I am your well wisher and friend, I am coming behind you, I will reach there and we will talk’,” the complaint noted, detailing the sequence of events before the Special DGP finally asked Kannan to let her go.
The same day, someone spoke to her father-in-law on behalf of the Special DGP for a “compromise and conciliation”. The person (whose phone number is given in the complaint) told the father-in-law that the Special DGP behaved inappropriately with her and that he was ready to fall at her feet and seek apology for it. The father-in-law, who wasn’t aware of the issue, cut the phone call.
In her complaint, the woman IPS officer said the Special DGP had abused his power using the official position and authority from the very beginning; deployed the official police machinery to its maximum using Chengalpet SP and his striking force, and misrepresented other IPS officers in her rank about the issue and asked them to talk to her.
“He went to the extent of intimidating my family members to put pressure on me to withdraw the complaint. This is misuse of authority at its maximum to criminally intimidate an officer,” her complaint said.
Requesting the authorities to move him out of headquarters before the inquiry procedures start, the victim’s complaint feared the accused officer, being the “most senior officer” in the state, “would try his level best to tamper with the evidence in the case and influence the witnesses.” “He would jeopardise the investigation as he has access to all the records,” the complaint said.
Even as there were demands from senior officers and opposition parties to suspend the Special DGP from the service, the state government had, on February 24, removed the accused from his post and put him on “compulsory wait”.