June 3, 2019
Ahead of a proposed award for senior investigative journalist Prakash Swamy and eight months after actor Gayatri Sai (42) lodged a complaint against him (on September, 27, 2018), the Chennai police, has finally registered an FIR under Prohibition of Harassment of Women 2012 Act, after turning down her complaints thrice in the past.
Stating that it was an exasperating ordeal to move the police to take cognisance of her complaint, she said it was made possible only through the intervention of the National Commission for Women.
Prakash Swamy, a UN-based international journalist, meanwhile, maintains it was sheer blackmail on part of the actor to block his chances of getting the award and to hinder his investigative piece into the mysterious death of her husband. Both had been active on social media, and trading charges with each other for some time now.
Gayatri, who was introduced to films by Mani Rathnam in Anjali, married a banker Sainath in 1999 and lived in Hong Kong. After his death in 2013, Gayatri moved to Chennai with her two children to live with her mother at Gopalapuram.
According to Gayatri, she came into contact with the scribe few years back as he came forward to help her in getting her son’s passport. Swami, however, says it was after their introduction in 2013 in a restaurant in Chennai, that the actor called him from Hong Kong and sought his help as the country’s embassy had withheld her visa and passport. However on inquiring he had learnt there was a police investigation behind the embassy’s move and he had kept away. He says he is investigating the possibility of her murdering her husband and had managed to settle in Chennai.
Squarely denying this, she says there was sufficient proof that her husband had died due to a heart attack and that Prakash Swamy was going to come up with nothing. “He is more of a fatherly stature to me but he harassed me on WhatsApp and social media to an intolerable extent. The Adyar Police did not investigate the complaint even after registering a CSR,” says Gayatri.
She further alleges that on July 30 last year, Prakash Swamy visited her house and had indulged in sexual assault. A maid servant and her driver had witnessed him pulling her hand and molesting her, she said. She had complained to the police twice but because of his clout the police did not pursue the complaint.
She took up the issue with the National Women’s Commission who advised her to file a petition in the Metropolitan Magistrate Court. It was by the court’s directive that the All Women Police Station, Royapettah, on May 27, 2019 registered an FIR on her complaint.
Prakash was summoned to the police station for inquiry on Friday but he had not responded, she says adding that Viswadharshini, who was harassing her and was supporting Prakash, has also been implicated in the case.
Asked what she expected to happen now, Gayatri says she was not under the influence of the ‘me-too’ syndrome. She was on a moral mission to bring to book a person who, she alleged, had exceeded limits harassing women sexually and emotionally. It was a traumatic experience, both mentally and physically for making the police act. “But since it is a mission as far as I am concerned I am ready to endure more to see its logical end,” she says.
Prakash Swamy, on the other hand, says all the three complaints she lodged against him have been closed due to lack of evidence. “I have met her just thrice, not even once alone and never visited her residence. She is raking up a closed case,” he says.
He says he filed a cyber bullying case against Gayatri but withdrew it to give them a chance. He further says he will be vindicated when his investigative piece on the murder of Sainath is released very soon. Regarding the proposed award he says he was not aware of such a move. It was up to the Government to decide to give it or not.
But a determined Gayatri says, “I am not alone in this. There are several women victimised by him. It is because they are family bound, they are scared to come out openly like me to complain to the police or discuss it with the media. I am not worried what happens to me; I am after all a single mother. I want to see the law taking its course in punishing a misogynist,” she says.