He went 'scouting' to religious places | delhi | Hindustan Times
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He went 'scouting' to religious places

delhi Updated: Mar 05, 2011 00:39 IST
HT Correspondent

This priest knew that a sureshot way of minting money from an unsuspecting public would be to have 12-year-old boys extol the virtues of spirituality.

And this is what he made his USP. Prem Dass, 50, who came to Delhi from Bhagalpur in Bihar in 1985 wanted to open his own 'chain' of ashrams.

"For years, he had been harbouring the dream of making money by opening ashrams, as people make huge donations to such places," said HGS Dhaliwal, deputy commissioner of police (South).

"But he needed something that would attract crowds. It was then that he got the idea of using children as preachers. His plan was to oversee the operation from the sidelines," Dhaliwal added.

Favourite hunting ground:

To give shape to his plan, Dass needed young boys aged between 10 and 12. So, to find them, he visited cities in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, where there are several religious places.

He had allegedly kidnapped his latest victim from Ayodhya.

"At these places, he would look for children from economically-weak background and those who had strayed

away from their parents. He would then paint a rosy picture of the Capital to them and promise them a better life," added Dhaliwal.

Dass allegedly kidnapped his latest victim, Deepak, on the pretext of helping him carry his luggage.

The police said that in an effort to not leave a trail, Dass would change several trains to reach Delhi from Ayodhya, in order to escape possible police action.

Once he got these children to the Capital, he would keep them at his ashram in Fatehpur Beri. He reportedly did not even give these children much to eat, in order to make them comply with his demands.

"Every morning, he would dress them in saffron clothes and put vermilion on their foreheads. Then, he would indoctrinate them in spiritualism and try to impress upon them that this was a way to lead a life full of riches," added Dhaliwal.

He even gave them pseudonyms like Raghunandan Dass - after his own name - to play the part better.

Who is he?

Dass came to Delhi in 1985 and worked as a priest in a local temple at Jaunapur.

He wanted to set up his own ashrams and three years later, in 1988, he established a small temple in Gadaipur. Following the mushrooming of farmhouses in the area, he began getting a rich clientele, who would ask him to perform religious functions. He then felt the need to 'expand operations'.