#MeToo allegation: Easwar calls it feminist conspiracy

Last Updated 15 December 2018, 12:23 IST

Rahul Easwar, president of Ayyappa Dharma Sena and a prominent campaigner against the implementation of the Supreme Court judgment allowing women of all ages entry to the Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple, was on Monday named in an allegation of sexual harassment, raised by an unidentified artist.

The alleged incident of abuse, tagged with the #MeToo movement, happened at Rahul’s flat in Thiruvananthapuram around 2003-2004 after the survivor had passed out from class 12.

The allegation was made public by a friend of the accuser’s, on her Facebook page. The friend, in her post, said the “well-known artist” told her about the incident on Sunday and attached a screenshot of their conversation.

The survivor said she had the impression that Rahul talked “progressive politics” at the time and they connected through a friend. She said he invited her to his flat saying his mother would be present there but upon entering the flat, knew she was not.

“He said, his mother just left and will be back. So I sat down as he invited me. He had put on some movie which was soft porn. I started to feel very uneasy. Then he started to give me a tour of his flat. He showed a room and said that is his bedroom. Then he initiated to touch me and kiss me,” the Facebook post narrating the incident said.

She said she felt “trapped” and after she moved away and said no, Rahul backed off. “Then again he tried it multiple times until I overcame my fear and forced myself to leave,” she said.

Rahul, in a Facebook video, denied the allegation and said while he backed the #MeToo movement, unsubstantiated charges would affect the credibility of the campaign. “The accuser doesn’t even know if the year was 2003 or 2004. How will we disprove this allegation?” he asked in the video. Calling it a “feminist conspiracy” and a move to disrupt unity among Ayyappa devotees who oppose entry of women of menstruating age to Sabarimala, he said his wife, mother and grandmother would formally respond to the allegation, on Tuesday.

Rahul led protests against the implementation of the SC judgment between October 17 and 22 when the temple was open for monthly pujas. He was arrested twice, and released, in connection with his involvement in the agitation.

(Published 29 October 2018, 12:34 IST)

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