Mumbai’s very own alleged sex and drugs cult came into limelight when three sets of parents accused Sunil Kulkarni, a psychiatrist by profession, of brainwashing young girls, giving them drugs and then sexually abusing them.
The Quint dove deep into the digital presence of the cult in the first part of this investigation.
On social media platforms, Kulkarni calls himself “a medical psychiatrist, clinical & organisational psychologist, corporate, motivational & positive health trainer”. Is he a prodigy or just a conman? The Quint traced Kulkarni’s digital presence to find out.
On his profile on Meetup.com, Kulkarni claims he held the post of Pro-Chancellor at Sharda University. The Chancellor’s office scoffed when The Quint attempted to verify this: “This is absolutely wrong information,” this reporter was told.
Speaking to Times of India last week, Kulkarni claimed he was also a Founder-Director of Amity Business School. Savita Mehta, Vice President, Communications at Amity Business School, told The Quint that no such person ever worked with them at that level.
This reporter also checked with Mithibai College and Galgotia Institute of Management and Technology, colleges where Kulkarni claims to have been a frequent lecturer in “management consultancy”. Both colleges denied ever having him on campus.
A 2005 report on Kulkarni by the police in a prior case lays down a pattern of Kulkarni’s fraudulent claims, weakening his current claims of having lectured at various IITs and IIMs across India. The report says that Kulkarni “used to dupe/impress the victims by his high-profile status and the contacts he claimed to have with different institutions”.
In 2016, Kulkarni tweeted about launching what he called ‘Indian Fashion TV’ or IFTV.
IFTV has a Facebook page, a Youtube channel and a website with videos and pictures of ‘IFTV models’ showing off their profile in home-made videos. But there is no registered address for an office or a studio.
On its Facebook page, IFTV claims to be "India’s first fashion satellite channel". However, as per the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting’s List of Permitted Private Satellite Channels as of 31 December 2016, no such channel exists. It appears to be a web-based project that uses social media to amplify Kulkarni’s open calls for young girls looking to make it in the fashion-TV-film industry.
When contacted, Sonia Chugh, listed as the channel’s Business Development Manager (in the tweet above), told The Quint that she had never heard of IFTV.
“Kulkarni had nothing but a name to give us and was approaching many colleges to partner with them. I left FTV in July 2015 and haven’t met him or spoken to him since,” Chugh adds.
MAAD Finishing School International (MAAD FSI) is yet another of Kulkarni’s bizarre ventures. His LinkedIn profile states that he is primarily employed as the Chairman and Managing Director of the finishing school.
MAAD FSI claims it is “targeted at meeting the requirements of film, fashion and TV industry.” The school claims to offer a three-year degree in Performance Arts – for Rs 2 lakh via Facebook Shopping. That is all the information there is.
As Sonia Chugh pointed out, MAAD FSI does not have an address. There are no contact numbers, or names, or even a website. All it has is a Facebook page with posts promising to impart grooming skills to women looking to break into beauty pageants, television and films in Mumbai. Interested parties are instructed to send an email, or to send a message on the Facebook page along with their contact number. There is simply no other way to reach them.
A few posts, announcing dance training or grooming courses for Femina Miss India, list three numbers which are the constant and only points of contact for Kulkarni’s activities.
When fed into Truecaller, the numbers were traced to a Bhavesh (switched off), one Anurag Khunger (out of network area) and a Yash Rajyaguru (no response).
He claimed to be a friend of Shivangi, the elder daughter. He claimed she had texted him, asking to be rescued from her family, and that he had enlisted Kulkarni’s help to come to the rescue of Shivangi and her sister.
The police must look into Kulkarni’s links with Anurag, Yash, and Bhavesh – even during the years before the cult, Shifu Sunkriti, was formed.
On his LinkedIn profile, Kulkarni claims to be the Managing Director of USK Hospitals & Medicare Private Limited. This may, in fact, be his only honest claim so far.
USK Hospitals and Medicare Pvt Ltd was registered as an active private company (limited) in New Delhi on 20 July 2010. However, according to information with the Registrar Of Companies, the company has not held any Annual General Meetings (AGM) till date, nor has it ever filed a balance sheet.
“This company does nothing, did nothing,” says Dr Mrs Alka Ranade, listed as the only other partner of this venture. A reputed Pune-based surgeon in obstetrics and gynaecology, Dr Ranade was caught unawares when this reporter called her to double-check the facts.
“Sunil Kulkarni was a distant family friend from Nagpur. His parents threw him out 30 years ago,” she says.
On its LinkedIn page, USK Hospitals claims it provides “all healthcare services and medical education”. It claims to own several health services, including one “Advaita Hospitals – a chain of super speciality hospitals in Delhi/NCR.”
The Advaita Hospitals website doesn’t work. What’s more, Advaita Hospitals claims to have a registered address of “F-1, Block D, Kalindi Colony, New Friends Colony”. Google Maps threw up a Sunrise Hospital near the supposed registered address. However, a phone call revealed that the ‘address’ of Advaita Hospitals, was in fact, the address of Sunrise Hospital.
“There is no such hospital,” Dr Ranade confirms.
It is now for the police to investigate into other possible shell companies set up by Kulkarni in Delhi and Mumbai and what they’re being used for.
Kulkarni was produced before additional chief metropolitan magistrate RK Deshpande after being arrested by the Mumbai Police on 20 April. The police put forward evidence that they had found against Kulkarni during a raid at his house in Mumbai’s Bandra West. The police also submitted the results of the Crime Branch’s preliminary investigation into his background.
The Crime Branch revealed that Kulkarni was arrested in New Delhi in 2016, when a 17-year-old girl accused him of raping her for two years after promising her a career in Bollywood. He was charged under the Prevention of Child Sexual Offences Act (POCSO). He shifted base to Mumbai after he was granted bail.
However, what has faded into oblivion – in media and police memory – is a 2005 case in New Delhi in which Kulkarni was arrested for running an admission racket. He had duped several parents of lakhs of rupees after promising them that he would get their children into prestigious colleges.
A press release from 2005 in the Zonal Integrated Police Network states that at the time, Kulkarni was also facing a trial for depositing Rs 45 lakh worth of forged cheques. Additionally, he was slapped with a recovery suit for Rs 2.5 lakh by another doctor and had defaulted on his car loan from Standard Chartered Bank.
The release also highlights that Kulkarni claimed to have the “educational qualifications of MBBS, MD, MA, Ph. D, MIRPM, DBM, DPH, DPA, DSW, Certificate in Dramatics etc”. He used these fake qualifications to scam people for money.
Kulkarni appears to have upgraded to running a full-fledged sex and drugs cult after being bolstered by his successful fake cheque scams in the past. It is imperative that the police take all of Kulkarni’s history of fraud and violence into account while investigating the case against him.