Madras HC grants bail to former Kalakshetra professor Sheejith Krishna, accused of sexual assault

Sexual assault allegations against Kalakshetra professors started when its former Director wrote about a teacher molesting students.

BySouth First Desk

Published Jun 03, 2024 | 10:00 PMUpdatedJun 03, 2024 | 10:00 PM

Former Kalakshetra professor Sheejith

The Madras High Court granted bail to Sheejith Krishna – a former professor of Chennai’s Kalakshetra Foundation – accused of sexual assault, on Monday, 3 June.

The 51-year-old former professor was arrested on 22 April by Neelankarai All-women police based on complaints from two former students, according to reports. Both former students have now settled abroad and sent a complaint online, based on which, a case was registered in February.

Sheejith Krishna was working at Kalakshetra reportedly between 1989 to 2010 and the complainants have alleged that the assault took place between 1995-2007, when the duo were students there.

Allegations against Sheejith reportedly include rape under false promises of marriage and other sexual offences.

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Sexual assault row in Kalakshetra

Established in 1936, the Kalakshetra promotes fine arts. In 1993, the Union government passed a Bill, recognising it as an institute of national importance. Kalakshetra is an autonomous body under the Union Ministry of Culture.

The sexual assault allegations against Kalakshetra professors started in December 2022 when former Director Leela Samson wrote on social media about a teacher who had been molesting students. Even though she deleted the post in a few minutes, it wasn’t soon enough and students and alumni started sharing their lived experiences.

In a matter of weeks, protests rocked Kalakshetra with students demanding the dismissal of faculty members accused of sexual misconduct.

Talking in March 2023 to South First, a former Kalakshetra student recalled how the allegations weren’t new. “They were first made two years ago. A student, who was a relation of a senior official at the Centre, had called him out, besides complaining to the management,” she said. “She was verbally abused when she refused to heed the demands of the senior teacher,” the former student added.

On 3 April 2023, Chennai City Police arrested an assistant professor of Kalakshetra, Hari Padman, based on a complaint by a former student on the charges of sexual harassment.

Related: Kalakshetra Assistant Professor Hari Padman arrested over sexual harassment allegations

(Edited by Neena)