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Mumbai: ‘No. of calls is insane’

Updated on: 15 February,2024 07:21 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Hemal Ashar |

Top doc harried by frenzied ringing of mobile after number appears on false message whirring on several WhatsApp groups

Mumbai: ‘No. of calls is insane’

Dr Samar Gupte wants a halt to these calls

Key Highlights

  1. Gynaecological cancer specialist found himself as subject of message making false claims
  2. This has gone viral on WhatsApp groups
  3. This message is false and Dr Gupte said he has no CSR funds at all

A top gynaecological cancer specialist, Dr Samar Gupte has found himself as the subject of a message making false claims. This has gone viral on WhatsApp groups. The message reads:

‘Dear all. In case you know of poor women with gynaec cancers… and in need of surgery, do let me know. I have a CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) fund that needs utilisation before March 31’. The message mentions Dr Gupte as the senior onco gynac with a Khar hospital and also lists his mobile number. The last three lines of the message read: ‘This can be of very good help to someone in need… kindly forward this msg in all your groups.’ It ends with a hands joined in prayer emoji.

No credibility

This message is false and Dr Gupte said he has no CSR funds at all. The doctor clarified, “There is a message floating around on WhatsApp that I have access to CSR funds for cancer patients and/or cancer surgeries. This is an incorrect message. I do not have any such funds available with me.

The fact is that like most doctors, I too do charitable work at different hospitals. However, I myself do not have any such funds with me.” Dr Gupte ended this with a request not to forward such messages.

Calls unlimited

According to Dr Gupte, with the message and his telephone number becoming viral, he has been inundated with calls and messages. “The number of calls has outstripped messages. Just a couple of days ago, the number of calls was completely insane. I was at the end of my tether picking up 200 calls in a couple of days. I have also answered WhatsApp messages to the best of my ability, explaining to senders that the message is bogus. I urge those messaging me to post counter messages that this is a false message in their WhatsApp groups.”

Melting borders

The doctor added that the false message is not just sent out in English, but also Hindi and Marathi. “I have received most calls from individuals and also from a significant number of trusts and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) too,” he said. With communication melting borders, the calls have not been restricted to Mumbai or India. Dr Gupte’s handset has been ringing furiously with calls from Tripura, Jammu & Kashmir, Saudi Arabia, the US and even Tunisia. “Most persons are polite and apologise when I clarify that this is a false claim going around on WhatsApp. There have been times though when I have faced ire. The caller simply does not understand when I say that I have no such funds and this is an unverified message sent by an unknown person. They have even asked me angrily: ‘then why did you say you have funds when you do not, refusing to believe that I have not posted the message in the first place.”

Gaining traction

The doc said the message started doing the rounds early this month, gaining traction on World Cancer Day which fell on February 4. There was also the Poonam Panday fake death from cervical cancer stunt that coincided with this message and probably gave it WhatsApp wings. In the end Dr Gupte said, “I do understand that most callers had good intentions, only inquiring to help their loved ones. Maybe the person who started this had good intent, I do not know. It is vital though that we always double-check and do some background research, knowing the power and speed of social media, before forwarding especially a message like this.”

The senior medical professional stressed that he has, “no CSR funds as stated in this communication”. As the doc signed off, we saw his tagline alongside his mobile number which said: ‘clear as water, cool as ice’. If his words are as, ‘clear as water’, the harried doc will be we think, as ‘cool as ice’.

No. of calls answered

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