Sneha Sharma (20), her unwell mother Madhu (41) and visually- and physically-challenged brother Vishal (24) came from Bangalore to Mumbai looking for a cure for her mother. They found a nightmare instead.
Madhu suffers from sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease.
“She has to get 24-hour artificial oxygen, for which we carry an oxygen generator. She’d been watching acharya Shree Kumaraswamy’s programme on Shraddha channel, which flashed a phone number, and a claim that all kinds of problems would be solved.”
“My mother was a staunch believer, so I called the number. They asked us to come to Mumbai for the meeting on Saturday,” said Sneha, a first year BCom student. They reached Dadar on Friday night. They were given two addresses — one for the meeting at Goregaon Sports Club, the other of the ashram at Andheri.
“We left for the sports club at 10.30 pm. When we got there, we were told there was no meeting planned. I phoned the number again. They told us the meeting was on Saturday. After much argument, they asked us to come to the ashram,” said Sneha, who works part-time to supplement her father’s income from a supermarket job.
They reached the ashram around 12.30 pm and Sneha said the workers there were initially helpful. “After giving us a room, at 1.30 pm they asked us to leave saying my mother’s condition was serious,” she added.
She pleaded for time, but the ashram authorities wouldn’t budge. They gave Sneha Rs 9,000 for travel and asked her to take her mother to a hospital. After searching all night for accommodation, they finally got a room in a hotel at Grant Road around 5 am.
“Around 8.30 am, they asked us to leave citing my mother’s health. Vishal finally managed to contact his friend Sanket’s family in Mulund, and we finally found safe haven,” said Sneha.
When HT contacted the ashram, a woman answered but refused to identify herself. She said: “We don’t take serious patients. We ask for the patient’s picture.” Another worker, giving only his last name as Sharma, said: “We’ve taken the patient’s name, date of birth and phone number. There was some misconception.”