On reading mid-day’s investigation on con men claiming to help cure cancers, those who have lost money to them narrate their ordeal as police order crackdown
mid-day’s front-page exposé on a gang of crooks preying upon emotionally vulnerable families of cancer patients has attracted police attention, with the Zone 5 DCP on Monday deputing a team to investigate the racket. Some victims also came forward and told mid-day how ringleader Krishna Patil fooled them into buying the ‘ayurvedic treatment’ for lakhs of rupees.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone 4) Dr Pravin Mundhe said, “I have deputed one team to conduct enquiry into the matter after reading the article in mid-day. We will also be in touch with the reporters who have brought this matter into the public domain.”
mid-day has also learnt that Krishna Patil, the mastermind running the racket with his henchmen, has been operating at least since 2009. After seeing mid-day’s report and the photographs published along with it, Melwyn D’Silva, 43, from Matheran contacted the correspondents.
The bill of medicines bought by a woman who met a crook in a mall; (right) mid-day reporters with Krishna Patil, the mastermind
Narrating his interaction with Patil, D’Silva said, “It was during 2009/2010 when I was at a hospital in Andheri for the treatment of his son, who has Down syndrome. This same man, Krishna Patil, had approached my wife with a list of items, also published in mid-day. He asked her to buy all the items and then visited my house to prepare the ayurvedic concoction,” said D’Silva, who lived in Powai then.
“We were then asked to go to Dadar to buy bhasma. He did not disclose the price, and instead kept telling us our child’s life is precious. Since he had promised that my son would be cured, I went to Dadar with my pastor.
“Krishna Patil took us to an ayurvedic shop where he mixed bhasma of silver, gold, diamond, etc. in the concoction. The bhasma was very expensive, so I had to borrow money from my relatives, friends and even the pastor. I spent over Rs 1 lakh,” D’Silva said.
Melwyn D’Silva said he could not lodge a complaint as he’s occupied with the care of his child, who has Down syndrome
He said Patil visited his house in Powai to apply the mixture on my child’s body. “After a few minutes of application, my son would get restlessness. But, we thought this would cure him and continued the treatment for a few days. We stopped four months later, as there was no improvement in his health,” he added.
D’Silva further added, “My family and relatives who lent me money have stopped talking to me because I could not pay them back. Krishna Patil cheated us. I could not register any complaint against him, because I am fully occupied in taking care of my son.”
Down syndrome is a genetic disorder, causing physical and mental challenges for people born with it. The condition causes developmental delays, according to the US CDC.
Krishna has now expanded his network and appointed his agents at top cancer hospitals, targeting affluent families. A few victims have lodged complaints against the accused in Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai.
Complaint in 2016
In September 2016, Naupada police in Thane registered an FIR against four people, Krishna Patil, Hanumath Golhar, Dipak Golhar and Shobha, all residents of Wagle Estate. They had sold the ‘ayurvedic treatment’ to a 54-year-old businessman whose daughter suffered from skin infection.
They took Rs 90,000 from the man for the “ayurvedic treatment” and took him to Neelkanth Ayurvedic Charai shop in Thane to buy the ingredients.
He had lodged a complaint upon realising that he had cheated, but they settled after the accused gave him his money back. Last week, mid-day went to Naupada police station to get the details of the case and match the photograph of Krishna Patil, but the cops said the accused were not arrested as the complainant had withdrawn the FIR.
Complaint in 2017
In 2017, the Meghwadi police in Jogeshwari filed an FIR against the accused for cheating the family of a 58-year-old man who was on dialysis.
The deceased man’s sister-in-law told mid-day, “Both the kidneys of brother-in-law had failed and he was on dialysis. On March 13, an unknown person approached us and told us that his brother also suffered from the same, but an ayurvedic concoction permanently cured him.”
The man put them in touch with someone who asked to make a paste, just like Krishna Patil asks others.
“The person took us to an ayurvedic store in Malad, added Ayurvedic medicine and took around Rs 2.5 lakh from us. A few days after applying the concoction, my brother-in-law developed an infection. Doctors told us not to apply any kind of medicines or oil, as it’s harmful for a patient on dialysis. We then approached Meghwadi police who filed an FIR against the accused, identified as Swami Ayyappa Shikre,” she said. “I lost my brother-in-law in 2018. We want the death penalty for the accused for playing with innocent patients’ lives.”
Police arrested Ayyappa under Sections 420 (cheating) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code.
Active in malls, too
Another victim told mid-day about her interaction with such people in a mall in Lower Parel, in 2011. They were offering treatment for vitiligo—a disease causing loss of skin colour. She was in the mall with a relative’s child, who suffers from vitiligo, when a woman approached them.
The con woman claimed a mixture of ayurvedic medicines had cured her sister’s vitiligo. Convinced, the child’s family spent Rs 1.40 lakh. There is no cure for vitiligo.
“The woman visited our house and prepared the same oil which mid-day published in the article. Then she took us to an ayurvedic shop and we met two other people. The shopkeeper knew this woman. They added some ayurvedic medicine in the oil and gave it to us. They said it was expensive because the ingredients were original.
“We applied this for months, but nothing changed. We visited the ayurvedic store, but it was closed. The woman’s number was also switched off. After reading the mid-day’s article, I realised they cheated me. Thank you for exposing these fraudsters,” she added.
‘Do you have any proof?’
mid-day reporter Diwakar Sharma called Krishna Patil on Monday, after the exposé appeared in the newspaper, to ask how long he had been operating his scam. “Who told you that I have been cheating people? There are hundreds of Krishna Patils. This name is very common.” He claims to work at Mantralaya.
Reporter: In which department of Mantralaya do you work
Krishna: Who’s this?
Reporter: I am Diwakar Sharma, a journalist with mid-day
Krishna: Yes tell me, what’s the problem. Why have you called
Reporter: You have been taking people to ayurvedic shops for curing cancer, right
Krishna: What? I don’t sell anything such
Reporter: But you have been brazenly duping people of lakhs of rupees
Krishna: No no, I don’t sell any medicine. I only give them solution
Reporter: Since when you have been duping gullible people
Krishna: What are you talking about
Reporter: You have been telling people that bhasma (ash) and other herbal materials will permanently cure cancer if applied for 622 days. You take people to ayurvedic shops to buy the bhasma
Krishna: One of my relatives suffering from cancer was cured after using the same medicine. I don’t sell these medicines
Reporter: Which relative
Krishna: Do you want me to send you the medical file of my relative
Reporter: Yes please. Also, have you ever been booked or arrested in a cheating case? How many cases are registered against you
Krishna: Excuse me. Where will you meet me now
Reporter: I am in Bandra. We are filing a story today. We had met you in Dadar a few days back. Do you remember
Krishna: Yes, we met, but you did not purchase the medicine, and now you are talking rubbish [he hands over the phone to another person who claims to be a local politician in Vashi]
Krishna back on the phone: You are accusing me of cheating people. I have never been arrested. What kind of complaint will you register against me? Do you have any proof? There are more than 200 Krishna Patils [He disconnects the call]