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Prasad sisters’ case: News report of the NCW enquiry

Wednesday, Jan 19, 2005

“Charges against Aurobindo Ashram false”

By Our Staff Correspondent

NEW DELHI, JAN. 18. The National Commission for Women (NCW) has described as “false” the allegations of sexual harassment made by five women inmates of Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry. The allegations were made by five sisters against some men in the Ashram.

“There appears to be malicious planning behind the complaints since the allegations could not be substantiated,” the NCW chairperson, Poornima Advani, told reporters here today after receiving the report of the Pondicherry Women’s Commission on the incident. She said she had received numerous mails and letters from women inmates of the Ashram saying they were “hurt” that the Commission had even taken up the case.

This was the first case taken up by the Pondicherry Women’s Commission headed by an advocate, Kamalini, who said that the complainants had filed several cases, including a defamation suit, against the Ashram but most of these had been dismissed by the courts.

Ms. Kamalini said she had sent an elaborate questionnaire to 111 inmates of the Ambabhikshu Building where the complainants as well as the accused resided, and to 101 women from other buildings. The women were asked whether they had faced any harassment. “Not a single respondent complained of any harassment and most of them described the Ashram as heaven on earth,” Ms. Kamalini said.

Ms. Kamalini said that enquiries showed that the Ashram took steps to expel the five women in 2001 due to their behaviour but they had moved the court and since then there have been a number of case by them. They had even lodged a police complaint complaining of sexual harassment before approaching the NCW Chairperson in October. Ms. Kamalini met the complainants but they were unable to substantiate their allegations.

The State Women’s Commission has now recommended to the Ashram to keep the complainants away from the people against whom they had made the allegations and looking into the possibility of segregating the men and women to avoid similar complaints in the future.


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