Gundecha Dhrupad Sansthan forms new IC to investigate #MeToo allegations as students protest handling of harassment plaints
The students issued a statement through their legal representatives that takes issue with the Sansthan's newly constituted Internal Committee
The students and management of Bhopal’s Dhrupad Sansthan remain locked in a tussle over how sexual harassment allegations against the founding family’s members — the late Ramakant Gundecha, and his younger brother, the pakhawaj artiste Akhilesh Gundecha — are being handled.
On 11 September, Firstpost reported on a collective statement from current and former students of the Sansthan who said that the gurukul’s official response to the allegations, as shared with the press, didn’t reflect the on-ground reality.
Among the major concerns the students’ statement flagged was the composition of the Internal Committee constituted on 3 September to look into the harassment allegations. The students felt the members of the IC could not be deemed “independent” since they were connected with the Gundecha family in various capacities.
The Sansthan’s secretary had told Firstpost at the time that the gurukul management was engaged in a constant dialogue with the students about the situation, and would be reconstituting an IC that the students would accept. A new committee was accordingly formed on 16 September, comprising Raka Arya, professor at the National Law Institute University; Gagan Sethi, a former member of the NHRC; Anu Gupta, a social activist working with the Eklavya Foundation; Ankita Athawale and CS Balasubramanian, who are students at the Dhrupad Sansthan, as members, as per an update posted to the gurukul’s official Facebook page.
However, the students issued a statement through their legal representatives that takes issue with this newly constituted IC. The concerns as listed in their statement include that the committee “has not been constituted in consonance with Section 4 of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013. Given the non-compliance, there are concerns about its competence to conduct a fair, just and impartial inquiry into the aforesaid matter”.
Further, that the Sansthan “has been in violation of the provisions of the [Act] since coming into force, having never constituted an IC”, and the students must be deemed “apprentices” based on the nature of their association with the gurukul. A complete copy of the statement can be viewed here —
The #MeToo accounts involving Dhrupad Sansthan were first reported by Firstpost on 4 September, when an Amsterdam-based yoga teacher and former disciple of the gurukul shared a Facebook post detailing sexual misconduct allegations against Akhilesh and the late Ramakant Gundecha. Dhrupad Sansthan founder Umakant Gundecha had said that Akhilesh was voluntarily stepping away from his association with the gurukul while the charges brought by the students were investigated.
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