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Famous music gurus Gundecha brothers accused of sexual assault

Famous music gurus Gundecha brothers accused of sexual assault
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Famous music gurus Gundecha brothers accused of sexual assault

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Umakant and Akhilesh have been accused of abuse and assault by female students of the music school

New Delhi: Dhrupad maestros, Gundecha brothers have been accused of sexual harassment and assault by female students of their school, Dhrupad Sansthan in Madhya Pradesh, as per a BBC investigation.

BBC said Monica's name has been changed to protect her identity because she fears reprisal. But she is keen to share her story. She alleges that she was raped by the late Ramakant Gundecha, a famous classical Indian musician, while she was a student at his school, Dhrupad Sansthan, in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.

Gundecha died in November 2019 but he and his brothers, Umakant and Akhilesh, have since been accused of sexual harassment and assault by female students of the music school.

Over the course of a three-month investigation, the BBC has heard multiple allegations against all three Gundecha brothers. Umakant and Akhilesh deny the allegations, the report said.

Ramakant was and Umakant still is a famous exponent of Dhrupad, one of the oldest genres of Hindustani music, while Akhilesh is a percussionist. In 2012, Ramakant and Umakant received the Padma Shri, India's fourth-highest civilian award for their contribution to music.

The report said Dhrupad Sansthan, the prestigious school they founded and taught at, has attracted hundreds of students, foreign and Indian, from across the globe. It claims to have accreditation from Unesco's Intangible Cultural Heritage Committee. But the Unesco told the BBC that it had no links to the school and said it will be sending a 'cease and desist' notice demanding the withdrawal of such claims.

Allegations against the three brothers range from sharing flirtatious and sexually suggestive messages to exposing themselves during class to molestation and, in the case of Ramakant, even rape, the report said.

As per the report, Monica said she was in her first week at the school when she began receiving inappropriate WhatsApp messages from Ramakant. She alleged that one evening he drove her to a dark car park and molested her in the backseat of his car.

"He started kissing me. I pushed him away but he kept trying," she said. "He touched my body and tried to unclothe me. At that time, I realised I was not moving. I was like a stone. At one point he realised that I was not responding. So he asked me, should I drop you back at the school? But I couldn't even reply."

The report mentioned that Monica said she wanted to erase the memory of the incident. She didn't leave the school immediately because she loved the music and was keen to pursue it further. She had left her job and invested all her money to study at the school.

But then three months later, she alleged, Ramakant raped her. "[He] entered the room, pulled my pants off and forcefully had sex with me. And when he had finished he just left. I went to the door and bolted it. And for three days, I didn't eat," she said.

The report said Sarah, another student at the school, whose name has also been changed, told the BBC that she was molested by Akhilesh Gundecha.

In total, five women told the BBC they had witnessed abuse and harassment on the Dhrupad Sansthan campus.

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