Days after a feud between members of late social activist Baba Amte’s family came out in the open, his granddaughter Sheetal Amte-Karajgi died at a hospital in Maharashtra’s Chandrapur district. The police are probing whether the death was by suicide.
Inspector Deepak Khobragade of Warora police station in Chandrapur district told News Media: “She died around 1 pm at a district hospital in Chandrapur. She was rushed there following health deterioration.”
On reports of Sheetal taking her own life, Khobragade said, “I can’t confirm that.”
On Saturday, Sheetal had serious differences with her elder brother Kaustubh, against whom she had in the past raised allegations of irregularities. Kaustubh resigned five years ago from the charitable trust run by the Amtes following the allegations. He also left Anandwan, a leprosy asylum set up by Baba Amte.
However, elders in the family, including Sheetal’s father Vikas and uncle Prakash Amte, sought to reinstate Kaustubh in the trust.
But Sheetal and her husband Gautam Karajgi vehemently opposed the decision. She even shared on Facebook a video in which she levelled several allegations against Prakash Amte and his son Aniket, along with a few others. The post was later removed.
After Kaustubh’s resignation, she also removed some of Anandwan’s old hands, attracting accusations of running the organisation in a “corporate and authoritative style”. Sheetal previously countered allegations, saying the organisation needs to change its ways of functioning to survive and infusing those changes was being wrongly dubbed corporatisation. She also refuted all allegations of her high-handed administration at Anandwan along with her husband.
Her father Vikas, mother Bharti, uncle Prakash and aunt Mandakini had last week issued a statement acknowledging her contribution to Anandwan, but dismissed her accusations. They claimed she was mentally stressed and was going through depression.
On Sunday, Sheetal had sent a WhatsApp message to this reporter that read “problem solved”. When contacted on phone, she had said, “it has been decided that Kaustubh would be taken back in the trust and would look after the Somnath project. I have no problem with that.”
Later, Prakash Amte, too, had confirmed the development. He had said, “A resolution to include Kaustubh was passed in a virtual meeting of the trust on October 29. Sheetal and her husband Gautum had then opposed it but it was passed by majority vote. Today (Sunday), both of them agreed to Kaustubh’s inclusion in the trust.”
Prakash, who runs the Hemalkasa project for the remote Gadchiroli tribals, said he was shocked to hear about Sheetal’s death. “We are all shocked. Yesterday only she and her husband had agreed to the Kaustubh proposal. On Monday morning also Gautam spoke to me and thanked me for working out the solution. We don’t know what happened suddenly within a couple of hours after that,” he said.