There have been sexual harassment allegations against leaders of the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) in Delhi University, EFLU Hyderabad and Pondicherry University. Following many complaints, including from minor students, on social media, the accused campus unit leaders were suspended from the party.
In Pondicherry University, several students, including a 17-year-old girl, complained against the active SFI leader on campus. The accused and then SFI unit president Ananthapadmanabhan was removed from the post after the social media campaign of the survivors.
The student wing of CPI(M) stated that there were various complaints against him and that the complaints were looked at with utmost seriousness. An enquiry committee was constituted to look into the issue, and it was found that the allegations were credible. The committee recommended severe action against Ananthapadmanabhan, and SFI decided to expel him from all posts and responsibilities he had been holding.
“The complaints were looked at with utmost seriousness by the Unit and immediately an enquiry committee was constituted to look into the issue. In the preliminary enquiry itself, it was found that the allegations were credible and that he was engaged in anti-organizational activities. Further, the explanation given by him was found to be unsatisfactory. Further enquiry also proved that Ananthapadmanabhan was found to be guilty of behaviour that is clearly against the organization’s values. Therefore the enquiry committee recommended for severe action against Ananthapadmanabhan. Accepting the recommendations of the enquiry committee, SFI has decided to expel him off from all the posts and responsibilities that he had been holding,” read the statement.
However, the SFI statement did not mention the nature of the complaint, which was sexual harassment.
In EFLU Hyderabad, a student complained that the SFI EFLU Unit Committee’s former secretary Sidharth Selvaraj sexually harassed her. The SFI unit stated that they have taken action against Sidharth Selvaraj and that he has been made to resign from the unit committee as well as from the post of Unit Secretary.
“Taking the survivor’s complaint as a prima facie information, Sidharth is made to resign from the unit committee as well as from the post of Unit Secretary,” it said.
In Delhi University, Abhiram NR, former SFI Unit President in Hindu College, was accused of sexual harassment.
An 18-year-old student who was a very active member of the same organization filed the complaint. The student alleged that when she contacted SFI leaders, including those of Delhi University, with a complaint about the incident, they dismissed her with scorn. Along with this, there is a complaint that the SFI leaders conspired to insult and humiliate the victim personally, including on social media. They were also expelled from SFI for anti-organizational activities.
The SFI Delhi Committee issued a press release without mentioning the name of the accused in the incident. SFI Delhi President Aishe Ghosh and Secretary Mayank claimed in a press release that the victim has been assured of all support, and the accused has already been removed from office in another matter. However, the news release also indicates that he later returned to SFI at Hindu College, which was explained as a failure on the part of the Hindu College SFI leadership.