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Thursday, Sep 19, 2019

Mumbai cult leader lured women with promise of career in fashion industry: Police

Sunil Kulkarni, who leads Shifu Sunkriti, talked of launching a television channel and claimed he is a ‘positive health trainer’.

mumbai Updated: May 29, 2017 21:37 IST
Manish K Pathak and Farhan Shaikh
Manish K Pathak and Farhan Shaikh
Hindustan Times
Sunil Kulkarni was produced in court in Mumbai on Thursday.
Sunil Kulkarni was produced in court in Mumbai on Thursday.(Bhushan Koyande/HT)

Sunil Kulkarni, leader of the cult Shifu Sunkriti, is active on Facebook and Twitter. Police said he used these social networking sites to attract young women by inviting them to be a part of the fashion industry. On his Twitter profile, he promises free “neuroplasticity resilience techniques” and a “nature retreat – a realm for emotionally naked visioning”, and offers money and free books in exchange for book reviews.

On May 23, 2016, Kulkarni tweeted through his personal account, “We are launching a new promising television channel IFTV Indian Fashion Television. We invite support.” In February this year, he posted from the same account, “Girls invited to join mentioning programme for Miss India. Miss Diva…”

The group’s Facebook page was launched on September 23 last year and now has 4,496 members. The most recent post, from last month, is from a girl whose parents’ petition to the Bombay high court prompted the Mumbai police to register a case against Kulkarni and arrest him.

Kulkarni has been operating in Mumbai for a few years, according to the group’s social media accounts. After his arrest, he told the police he studied at Nagpur had a doctorate in psychology. On social media platforms, Kulkarni described himself as “a medical psychiatrist, clinical & organisational psychologist, corporate, motivational & positive health trainer”. However, the police have found no evidence to back his claim of having a doctorate.

The police suspect he operates several firms but Kulkarni does not have a house in Mumbai. He said during his interrogation that he from Delhi and often visits in Bandra, where he has rented a house. He earlier lived on rent in other areas in the western suburbs. While he is married and has two children, he does not live with them, he told the police.

First Published: Apr 21, 2017 09:34 IST