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HindustanTimes Wed,22 Oct 2014

Fraud men who prey on blind faith

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Lucknow, September 02, 2013
First Published: 10:48 IST(2/9/2013) | Last Updated: 10:52 IST(2/9/2013)

In a land where people still cling to superstitions and believe in the occult, cultic racketeers and phony godmen continue to exploit the gullible

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The self-proclaimed ‘godman’ Asaram has finally been arrested for alleged sexual abuse.

But that is not the end to the entire breed of glib -talking ‘babas’ that traps the innocent, boasting of super natural powers.

Several self-styled ‘babas,’ ‘tantriks’ and ‘maharajs’ have been exposed in the past after their acts were reported.

But a lot still continues under the banner of fake healing and pseudo magic.

“There are so many incidents that occur every day. Unfortunately, women are soft targets for such tantriks and gurus, who promise to cure all problems through their powers and dupe the women,” said Madhu Garg, social activist.

Garg recalled a case in which a teenage girl went missing after her mother took her to a baba’s ashram.

“The mother tried a lot but could not get the girl back. Later investigations highlighted that there were many more such cases where the girls disappeared after they went to the ashram,” she said.

In another case, a girl was kept captive for years by a tantrik near Varanasi and was rescued by an organisation about a month ago.

Vinita Grewal, chief project coordinator, ‘The Alliance- Nai Asha’ that rescued the girl, said, “The girl has a 10-month-old baby born out of the abuse by the tantrik and his son. The girl in her statements has described how the tantrik exploited her for months, with his son and other clients. He would terrify her with threats of dire consequences if she tried to move out of the ashram where she was confined.”

Many are duped of their money, others mortgage their property and some even fall prey to the illegal rackets that operates under the spiritual banner.

But it is hard to make people understand till something big happens, say police officials. CO Hazratganj Dinesh Yadav said, “People should not go to these seers for help. They target women and youngsters first and gradually begin to exploit them. People must avoid going to such self-proclaimed godmen.

He said that if a slightest indication of fraud or illegal activity came to light, people should not hide it and tolerate it. They must inform the police.

The modus operandi of the tricksters is simple. In keeping with the times, these seers own lavish air-conditioned offices in prominent localities and market areas of the city.

They advertise about their powers on local cable TV and even distribute pamphlets claiming to possess cures for everything under the sun: career- related problems, childlessness, dejection in love and discord in marital life.

The baba’s aides spread several success stories of people who have benefited from the baba’s powers. This is enough to invite people and this keeps the business growing for the seers.

Meena Gupta, a resident of Rajendra Nagar whose maid was cheated by one such con man said, “The baba would take money from her everytime she went to him and said that if she did not abide by whatever he said, she would come to harm. The baba even took her gold ear-rings and said that he would return them after a couple of days after performing a puja. He sid that after the prayer, the ear-rings would protect her from all evils. But when she went to collect the ear-rings, the baba had vanished.”


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