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Gundecha case: Gurukul may shut for a while, suspend Akhilesh

Sources said one of the measures being considered is closing down Dhrupad Sansthan, the residential gurukul run by the Gundecha family in Bhopal, for a while.

Written by Suanshu Khurana | New Delhi |
Updated: March 4, 2021 12:14:33 pm
Gundecha case: Gurukul may shut for a while, suspend AkhileshAkhilesh (left), the late Ramakant accused of harassment

Over five months after The Indian Express reported allegations of sexual harassment against Ramakant and Akhilesh Gundecha, notable names in the musical tradition of dhrupad, a few disciplinary measures may be in process.

Sources said one of the measures being considered is closing down Dhrupad Sansthan, the residential gurukul run by the Gundecha family in Bhopal, for a while. Akhilesh Gundecha could also be suspended from teaching and mentoring students at the institute for a year, after which he may come back to teaching but under observation.

Students of Dhrupad Sansthan, including those who have accused Akhilesh of harassment and those who have left, have also demanded therapy for Akhilesh. According to sources, that demand is being considered.

Akhilesh, who withdrew himself from the gurukul following the charges, was in December dropped from the artiste schedule of the Madhya Pradesh government’s famed Tansen Samaroh. One of those who objected to his presence at the festival was its main artiste Madhu Tailang.

Anant Gundecha, secretary of Dhrupad Sansthan and son of the late Ramakant Gundecha, said the gurukul was taking action on the suggestions that had been made. “We have made sure that these issues are treated with sensitivity and have already taken steps in that direction. We have gender sensitisation sessions, we have a specific code of conduct for people living in the gurukul and those joining it, we have dedicated areas of teaching that are under CCTV surveillance. We will continue to do our work,” said Anant.

A workshop was held in February for the students and staff at the gurukul. “We thought that it is important for everybody to know about the law and be sensitised about these issues,” said Anant.

A former student said that while some CCTV cameras outside buildings had existed since 2019, new ones have been installed inside teaching rooms.

Anant said more new students had joined the institute in the past couple of months and teaching at the gurukul had continued.

Sources told The Indian Express that Umakant Gundecha had stepped down as chairperson of the Sansthan and 24-year-old Anant had taken his position. Anant, however, refused to comment on whether Umakant had stepped down.

“I am the secretary. That’s all I can tell you,” said Anant.

Situated on the outskirts of Bhopal, Dhrupad Sansthan has a hostel facility and functions as a traditional gurukul with students staying on the premises. The institute has been empanelled by the ICCR, which sends foreign students to study music there. The Sansthan is also associated with the American Institute of Indian Studies.

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