A few months back, Shailaja teacher, the honorable health minister of Kerala, had claimed that strict legal actions will be taken against online charity workers who operate illegally. With her comments, Shailaja teacher was apparently targeting the so-called online charity groups headed by Firoz Kunnamparambil, a man who was shot to fame within three years by collecting money for the needy people through social media videos.
Even though the activities of Firoz remain under scanner due to violation of rules including breach of foreign contribution regulatory act, he enjoys a huge fan following, and this group had launched a social media attack against the health minister for her comments. And now, a leaked telephone call between charity worker Sajan Kechery, and a woman has shed light on the dark secrets of social media charity.
Charity based on commission
A few hours back, Sajan Kechery, a popular charity worker who operates from Thrissur came live on Facebook and alleged that another charity worker named Hamza Moloor has looted Rs 2.5 lakhs from a patient's mother. It should be noted that Hamza Moloor had recently pleaded on Facebook to donate money for the treatment of the kid, who is currently on a ventilator. The social media campaign of Hamza helped to raise more than Rs 11 lakh, but the charity worker forcefully collected Rs 2.5 lakhs from the kid's parents as a commission amount.
Sajan Kechery also leaked a telephone call recording where he can be heard talking to the kid's mother. In the telephone call, the lady can be heard saying that Hamza Moloor demanded the money, and has forcefully collected it. She also revealed that they should provide a 10 percent commission for charity workers.
Interestingly, after some time, both these charity workers deleted their live video from Facebook, but not before it spread like wildfire on social media platforms.
Firoz Kunnamparambil: The Kingpin
Online social media charity groups have now evolved as an unquestionable mafia in Kerala, and they are cleverly exploring the sentiments of people who consider donating money to the needy as a noble deed. It was Firoz Kunnamparambil, a young man from Alathur, Palakkad who initially started the concept of social media campaign in Kerala.
The operations of Firoz are very simple. He used to approach a patient and will post a live video on Facebook requesting money. In most of the cases, the donations used to cross Rs 1 crore, and after handing over the necessary amount to the patient, he used to collect blank cheques from the patient's dependants. As per Firoz, these blank cheques will be provided to other patients so that the excess money in the first patient's bank account can be used.
However, the activities of Firoz Kunnamparambil always seem suspicious, as he fails to provide transparency regarding the usage of the excess amount that reaches the patient's account. In a recent interview given to 24 News, Firoz had claimed to have done transactions worth Rs 200 crore in just two years. But, when we checked his Facebook page, where he claims to have given all the details about his charity, this 200 crore remark stands as a big question, and we failed to find Firoz distributing such a huge amount to people.
Private hospitals supporting the looting?
A few months back, Dr Mohammed Asheel, Executive Director of Kerala Social Security Mission had alleged that online charity groups are involved in a huge scam, and they are bolstering the funds required for treating patients in the state. When we checked the videos posted by Firoz Kunnamparambil, we came to know that he is asking more than Rs 50 lakhs for almost all surgical procedures.
A section of social media users believes that online charity groups are now working hand-in-glove with several private hospitals so that they can share the sinister profit equally.
Prevalence of a parallel government
The rise of people like Firoz Kunnamparambil has also resulted in the creation of several social media armies on Facebook. Whenever someone questions the operations of Firoz Kunnamparambil, these people used to launch a brutal attack on critics, and they proclaim themselves as a parallel government in the state.
It should be noted that Firoz Kunnamparambil had recently violated all laws of coronavirus social distancing, but the police have not taken any action against him apparently fearing social media outrage. In many of his videos taken were seen appearing in public without wearing face masks, and all these happen in Kerala where stepping out of the house without a mask is considered an offense.