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Mumbai: Top fitness guru booked for sexual harassment

Updated on: 16 June,2023 07:52 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Shirish Vaktania , Diwakar Sharma |

Khar police detain well-known yoga coach Gunjan Sharma on complaint of pole dancer, 32; he pleads his innocence and alleges professional rivalry

Mumbai: Top fitness guru booked for sexual harassment

Pic/Satej Shinde

The Khar police arrested fitness and yoga instructor Gunjan Sharma last week, for the alleged sexual assault of a 32-year-old professional pole dancer, but he was released on bail the next day. The woman has now posted a three-part video on her Instagram account, which has a large fan following, to get the cops to act.

A woman has alleged that fitness and yoga instructor Gunjan Sharma - on the pretext of helping her to stretch at her home - had touched her inappropriately and sexually assaulted her. In her statement to the police, the professional dancer further alleged that Sharma has sexually abused many young women in the past as well. "Most of them couldn't muster the courage to approach the police and get him booked," she said in her statement.

According to the woman, Sharma was arrested after she registered an FIR and produced before a court. “But I wondered how he was immediately granted bail,” she told mid-day. Pleading with the Mumbai Police via Instagram, to look into the matter seriously, the woman said, “I was sexually assaulted by Gunjan Sharma, who is a known sexual predator. None of us feels safe as he can harm us at any point.”

A video grab of Gunjan Sharma’s response to the allegations on Instagram
A video grab of Gunjan Sharma’s response to the allegations on Instagram

“The ordeal of each victim is worse than the next,” she said, sobbing in her Instagram post. She also urged other victims to come forward to embolden their voices against Sharma. The woman, who is a Khar-based pole dancer, yoga teacher and flexibility trainer has more than 10,000 followers on Instagram. She met Sharma in January 2018 after joining a yoga training centre in Khar as a teacher and was in touch with him at the class till August 2019.

On November 12, 2021, the woman and Sharma started following each other on Instagram. He would like her videos and also encouraged her work. He also suggested on several occasions to start a class together, but she declined. However, on May 11, 2023, they had a training session at her Khar residence. The session started around 8 pm and ended at 10.30 pm. They also recorded many videos together. After this, the woman started stretching exercises and Sharma offered to help.

"Sharma told the woman to relax on the floor and that he will stretch her body in just a few minutes. He then started touching her inappropriately, inserted his hand in her clothes and started molesting her. Sharma forcibly molested her," said a police officer, adding that he fled after the woman raised an alarm.

Based on the woman’s complaint, Sharma was arrested by the Khar police last week. He was produced in court and released on bail the next day. “We have registered an FIR under IPC Sections 354, 354(A)(1)(i) and 509,” said police sub-inspector Laxman Kakade of Khar police.

Gunjan Sharma says

Speaking exclusively with mid-day, Sharma said he has been falsely implicated by the woman who he was in touch with for one year. “I met her for the first time on May 11 after she invited me to her home in Khar. I have preserved all the chat history for further use to defend myself in the court of law,” said Sharma, who is a native of Bihar’s Bhagalpur district and has been living in Mumbai since 2011.

The woman has alleged that the fitness coach has molested many young women in the past as well. Pic/Satej Shinde
The woman has alleged that the fitness coach has molested many young women in the past as well. Pic/Satej Shinde

“I have been coaching fitness coaches for the last 20 years, but have never faced such a weird allegation in my career. I have worked with many celebrities of Bollywood,” he added. “After she called me at her house-cum-pole studio at Khar on May 11, I helped her in stretching. She was not alone at her flat and also made a few videos when I was coaching her, which she later sent me on WhatsApp on the same night,” he recalled.

According to Sharma, he uploaded the video to his Instagram account on May 14, after taking permission from the woman. “The video went viral within a few minutes as I have more than 65,000 followers, but to my surprise, she texted me to take down the video. I told her it was uploaded only after she gave her consent but I was forced to take it down,” Sharma said, adding that the woman was not visible in the frame and only he was seen in the video.

When asked why a woman will falsely implicate him, Sharma said, “She had been pumped up by my rivals who want to ruin my reputation which I have earned through my hard work.” “I have not sexually abused any woman, as she is claiming in her allegations, but people will believe her since she is seen shedding tears in the videos. Even the cops knew that I am being framed by the woman, but had to register an FIR as she had approached the police with the complaint,” he added.

Sharma further pointed out that the woman had waited for 19 days to lodge the complaint. “If anything she claims has happened, why did she wait for 19 days to register an FIR against me? Why did she text me videos on the night of May 11, if I had molested her on the same day? Which sexual assault victim interacts with a perpetrator? These are baseless allegations all.”

May 11
Day of the alleged assault

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