Bhopal: Two Gundecha brothers accused of sexual abuse; Dhrupad Sansthan launches probe

Two eminent gurus from the prestigious Dhrupad Sansthan in Bhopal – Ramakant Gundecha and Akhilesh Gundecha – have been accused of sexual harassment in a Facebook post put out by a group called ‘Dhrupad Family Europe’ recently. Ramakant passed away last year. The school has set up an inquiry into the allegation. School chairman Umakant Gundecha (elder brother of Ramakant and Akhilesh) has ordered an inquiry into the allegations levelled by a disciple and a yoga teacher based in Amsterdam. One of the family members of Gundecha brothers told FPJ that the allegation is baseless. “It is a conspiracy to defame the school,” she said.

A disciple of Umakant and Ramakant Gundecha, Vishakha Rajurkar from Bhopal said she was shocked after reading the Facebook post. “It is unbelievable. I never had such an experience. All are rumours,” she said. Painter Akhilesh Verma said it is fake news and it is irresponsible of people to share and comment on it without evidence and confirmation from Umakant Gundecha. “They are talking about the person (Ramakant) who died long back. This is not done. It is very disturbing,” Verma added.

In a statement on social media, journalist Abhilash Kandekar said, “I know the family very well for many years. Why would they ruin their own reputation, Gurukul and the main income source of the family?” He said levelling unproven charges to create sensation is aimed at garnering cheap popularity. Akhilesh Gundecha, a leading Pakhwaj artiste and brother of Umakant and Ramakant Gundecha, the famed exponents of Dhrupad style of music, has recused himself from activities of Dhrupad Sansthan. He is facing an inquiry following allegations of sexual abuse levelled against him and Ramakant Gundecha. The FB post claims that many students were sexually propositioned, told to give in if they "ever wanted to have a career in music", and that saying no would mean "trouble at Gurukul".

The post also claimed that gurus touched their students inappropriately. Umakant and Ramakant Gundecha learned Dhrupad from Zia Fariduddin Dagar and his brother Zia Mohiuddin Dagar who acquired legendary status. A member of the Gundecha family, who refused to be identified, said that a woman called Elizabeth, who is purported to have formed the WhatsApp group called Dhrupad Sansthan Me Too does not exist. The SIM card ‘Elizabeth’ was issued in London but when calls were made to the number, it was revealed that the woman does not exist. The Gundecha family kin also claimed that “Elizabeth’ has withdrawn the original post. “It is a conspiracy,” the kin said.

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