Help for the down-and-out former editor Sunita Naik began pouring barely hours after Sunday MiD DAY reported on the hard times the 65-year-old has fallen on.
Till a decade ago, she was associated with a prestigious Marathi women’s magazine, had two apartments in Worli and owned two cars. Today, homeless and penniless, she survives on food and shelter provided by gurudwara Sachkhand Darbar in Versova.
Ghazal singer Ashok Khosla was the first to respond and invited Sunita to be a part of his ashram in Pune.
“It was indeed painful reading about the sad state of such a lady. We have regular events at the ashram like classical and devotional programmes by renowned artists. So Naik will enjoy her stay with us as part of our family. She won’t have to worry about her basic requirements,” he said.
When told about Naik’s condition that she won’t abandon her pet and companion, a 12-year-old Pomeranian Sashi, Khosla said he had independent rooms in Pune where both could live peacefully.
“We will arrange for a special bus to transport them to Pune. Given her educational background and her ability to converse in five languages, she can also work with us as an administrator,” he said.
Vile Parle resident Larry D’Souza also visited Naik in the morning and offered to take her to his home.
When we met up with Naik for the second time on Sunday, she said she preferred to stay on in Mumbai.
“I am used to life in Mumbai and would like to stay here till the time I can figure out where my finances have disappeared. Between 2007 and 2009 I had almost Rs 55 lakh in the Prabhadevi Branch of ICICI Bank, which is close to Rabindranatya Mandir and another Rs 10 lakh in their Thane branch.”
“My other accounts were in Yes Bank, Caddel Road. I do not know if the accounts are still active, and would appreciate if these banks helped me. My brain becomes numb at times and I find it difficult to remember things, including my account numbers. But I know that they were opened in my full name, Sunita Anantrao Naik,” she said.
Legal aid, too
Secretary of Sachkhand Darbar gurudwara in Versova, who has been providing food to Naik for the last couple of months, volunteered legal assistance to her. “I am not an advocate but have expertise in drafting cases based on facts which can be produced in a court of law. If a fraud has occurred, given the volume of money involved, it can also be investigated by the Economic Offences Wing of the Mumbai police” he said.