Mumbai: Money raised by NGO for acid attack victim doesn't match sum received by hospital
Byculla's Masina Hospital's books show Rs 6 lakh deposited in a bank account opened for acid-attack victim Zakira Shaikh's treatment; NGO claims remaining Rs 4 lakh is stuck in forex red tape
Thinking of donating to a crowdfunding website to help the survivor of a terrible acid attack? Beware, your money might not reach the victim. A day after this paper revealed how an NGO used the pictures of survivor Zakira Shaikh without her permission to raise funds for her treatment, it now turns out that the organisation has not given her over 40 per cent of the money collected for her.
In 2015, the Supreme Court ordered all hospitals - government or private - to provide free treatment to acid attack victims. Thanks to the SC's order, survivors no longer need to raise funds for their treatment. However, it turns out certain organisations are more than willing to collect money in their name. Problem is, they're less willing when it comes to handing over the money to the victim.
In Zakira's case, she and her family were not even aware that the NGO Make Love Not Scars had used her pictures on the crowdfunding website Ketto. Zakira is being treated at Masina Hospital, but neither the hospital administration nor the NGO bothered to ask her permission to use her picture and name to raise funds. "Neither the hospital nor the NGO had approached us. We learnt through someone else that the fund-raising portal had already collected $18,346 in donations from across the globe," said the victim's elder sister, Sugra Sayyed.
Where's the rest?
The family promptly submitted a written complaint to the Byculla police, following which Ketto put a halt to the fundraiser. As the website shows, by this point, donors had already contributed nearly Rs 10.8 lakh. However, on November 23, Ketto only transferred Rs 6.2 lakh into the account for Zakira's treatment. More than 40 per cent of the money had been withheld, and the hospital was allegedly not informed about this.
"Ketto had not bothered to inform the hospital or the family members about the remaining amount," said an officer from Byculla police. Vinayak Kulkarni, manager (Administration) at Masina hospital, corroborated this: "The NGO did not inform about the remaining money they had collected through donations. We received only Rs 6.2 lakh till date."
However, when this reporter questioned why the hospital was raising funds in this manner when the apex court had ordered that treatment be free of charge, Kulkarni refused to comment, stating that only the managing director of the hospital would be able to answer.
Kulkarni added, "Our social worker was approached by the brother and mother of the victim for financial help. With their oral consent, the social worker sent appeals to various people and organisations."
The other side
Speaking to mid-day, Ketto founder Varun Sheth said, "The remaining amount was donated in US dollars, so it will take three to four more days to credit it. It will get done by the end of the week." Ria Sharma, founder of Make Love Not Scars, also said that the delay in transferring funds was because of the foreign currency. She added, "We were approached by the hospital for crowdfunding, following which they approached Ketto."
Not the only case
Make Love Not Scars is not the only NGO working in this case. Zakira's family had approached the NGO Acid Survivors Saahas Foundation and received assistance from volunteer Daulat B Khan. Khan said that they have had a similar experience with Ketto in the past as well. "In October, Ketto had demanded a 50 per cent cut from the donations collected for another acid attack victim, Shabbo. Ketto took away Rs 7.5 lakh out of the Rs 13 lakh collected for her," Khan alleged. To this, Sheth responded, "In the campaigns that we run for victims, at times there are expenses on advertisements. Such costs can go up to 40 per cent of the money that is collected."
Madan B. Lokur and U.U. Lalit
Social Justice Bench, Supreme Court
'States should take up with private hospitals and ensure that they do not deny treatment to acid attack victims. We see there is a reluctance on the part of some private hospitals to provide free treatment'
Rs 10.8 lakh
Total money collected on Ketto.org
Rs 6.2 lakh
Amount credited to Zakira's account
Number of people who donated