Apr 20, 2017

Maharashtra: Parents' claims baseless, say daughters who joined 'cult'

Maharashtra: Parents’ claims baseless, say daughters who joined ‘cult’
Women’s parents had moved a petition in HC claiming Shifu Sunkriti had drugged, brainwashed their daughters

Radhika Ramaswamy
The Indian Express
April 20, 2017

TWO days after their parents filed a petition in the Bombay High Court alleging that a cult group had lured them into ‘promiscuous behaviour’, two young women have called the allegations baseless. The women, aged 21 and 23, daughters of a Malad-based couple, told The Indian Express that they had left home after being subjected to domestic violence.

The petition by the girls’ parents says that the two had been drugged and hypnotised by Sunil Kulkarni, who leads a group called Shifu Sunkriti, and were brainwashed into joining a sex and drugs racket. On Wednesday, the Bombay High Court directed the Mumbai police to file an FIR against Shifu Sunkriti and investigate the group. The court was also informed by the parents’ lawyers about two more parents who had approached the police with similar complaints against the ‘cult’ group.

Dismissing the allegations by her parents, the 21-year-old woman told The Indian Express, “Our parents have physically and mentally tortured us since childhood. Problems hit the roof after my sister started working for Kulkarni, who is a qualified psychiatrist.” The 23-year-old, who was pursuing a degree in law, had shifted to studying event management and had met Kulkarni when he visited her college.

“I was offered a job by him and I was merely looking after the Facebook page of Shifu Sunkriti, which is not a sex cult group or drug racket as is being alleged. It’s a resilience technique which rewires the brain for better health and mental wellbeing. It helps face internal emotions and lead a better life through various mind and body exercises and techniques,” said the elder daughter. She added that Kulkarni conducted workshops to impart the technique in Mumbai and Delhi.

The younger woman took a break from her architecture course last year. “Our parents did not like that we wanted to pursue careers and interests of our choice. They never gave us any freedom. When my sister started working with Kulkarni, all hell broke loose. Our dad locked us up for about a week and even approached the police against Kulkarni… We were forced to file a complaint against Kulkarni. The environment in the house was violent and dangerous and we had to get out of that house,” said one of the women.

They claimed Kulkarni is a qualified doctor and the cases against him in Delhi pertain to financial issues. The women said they are at present staying as paying guests, and not with Kulkarni. “We are shocked that our parents have filed a petition of this kind. They say they sent a social worker to inspect the office and found semi nude people — all this is a figment of their imagination. We are also planning to take this up legally and will file an application in the court,” said one of the women.

Asked about the allegations by the daughters, the lawyer representing the parents, Varsha Bhogle, said, “They have been brainwashed and drugged into making such statements. They don’t know what they are saying.”

She went on to say that the sisters approached the police after the ‘cult’ group influenced them to do so and the police did visit the house to verify the complaint and found nothing wrong, which is why no case was registered against the parents. “The parents want the children released from the clutches of this man and the racket that he operates. Many more innocents are likely to be under his spell,” said Bhogle.



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