A family of doctors ganged up against their daughter for their own motives, her fault was that she wanted to carry forward the legacy of her grandfather as he instilled. In the name of expansion and money making the narrative of social work was getting compromised. Nothing was alright within the family; this is what Sheetal Amte spoke in the video posted on social media. She was not happy with whatever was happening in the family and at the Maharogi Sewa Samiti. Gradually, she went into depression because the rivals were none other than her own siblings. One day she came vocal and exposed them, and then they rendered some explanation declaring Sheetal mentally unstable. Well, no one really took her and her family seriously; there were just silent whispers in the media but no one reached her to know the truth. Finally, her death news shocks Maharashtra, its media and ministers. Marathi manoos is hurt and they are curious to know what has prompted Sheetal to commit suicide, how come such a brave and talented doctor went in depression? Who has abetted this suicide? Where were her family members when she chose to put an end to her life? Or someone deliberately left her to die?
Sheetal Amte was the daughter of Vikas Amte and Bharati Amte, and granddaughter of Baba Amte, who established a rehabilitation home for lepers in Anandwan, in the state of Maharashtra. She also established Maharogi Sewa Samiti to run the facilities, which include a range of health care, rehabilitation, education, agriculture, and economic empowerment programmes. She studied medicine and became a doctor, and joined her family working at Anandwan to continue her grandfather’s vision; her brother Kaustubh is an accountant for Anandwan and her uncle Prakash Amte and aunt Mandakini Amte are also doctors at the community. She helped to secure the financial assistance of the Tech Mahindra Foundation to provide food for children in Anandwan schools. She also led the installation of solar power panels at the community, resulting in Maharogi Sewa Samiti receiving an award for Innovative Energy Project of the Year 2016 from the Association of Energy Engineers, and intended to incorporate more smart technology into the community in future. In 2016, she was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. She was also selected as a United Nations Innovation Ambassador and an advisor to i4P (Innovations for Peace. In 2020, she died by suicide, isn’t it hard to believe? She is survived by her parents, her husband and her six-year-old son, Sharvil Karajgi.
The Samiti, founded by Baba Amte, has created livelihood opportunities for several marginalised people, especially for those afflicted with leprosy, orthopedically handicapped, vision and hearing-impaired individuals and tribal populace since 1949. Amte-Karajgi had recently raised some questions about the functioning of Anandwan ashram and levelled allegations about the certain “irregularities” in Maharogi Sewa Samiti, controlled mostly by her family members, particularly her father, Dr Vikas Amte, and Dr Prakash Amte. Amte-Karajgi was also the founder of “Mashaal” and “Chirag”, the exclusive leadership training programme for motivating medical professionals across India. She recently set up a centre called “Nijbal”, which worked towards prevention of disabilities; primary, secondary and tertiary education; vocational training; employment support; various types of counselling; sports, medical and physical rehabilitation services. She was also engaged in an ambitious project of making Anandwan a one-of-its-kind “smart village” in the country, by making it technologically efficient, economically productive and environmentally sensitive. In January 2016, she was selected by the World Economic Forum as “Young Global Leader 2016” and later, was selected as a member of the World Economic Forum Expert Network on Humanitarian Response.
She had uploaded a video on social media last week talking about the “irregularities” but removed it within two hours. A few days ago, the Samiti’s trustees removed her from the board. According to people in the know, ashram members were opposed to Amte-Karajgi and her husband, Gautam Karajgi, an engineer and management expert, ideas of “bringing in a corporate culture” into Anandwan ashram. Last week, trustees of Maharogi Sewa Samiti — Dr Vikas Amte, Dr Prakash Amte (both sons of Baba Amte, a recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay Award and Padma Vibhushan, who died in 2008) and their wives, Dr Bharati Amte and Dr Mandakini Amte — issued a clarification, saying all allegations levelled by Amte-Karajgi were baseless and misleading. They claimed that they are committed to working in strict adherence to the innate values and ethics laid down with which the institution was formed. They also claimed that Amte-Karajgi was “mentally stressed and frustrated. Amte-Karajgi was fairly active on social media and had tweeted till around eight hours before her death. In her last tweet, Amte-Karajgi had posted an abstract painting on canvas, titled, “War and Peace”. There was a lot of inner war, within and outside, no one ever thought that she would find peace in death.