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10 more held for aiding Gujarat conman

india Updated: Jun 04, 2009 01:23 IST
Prasad Nichenametla
Prasad Nichenametla
Hindustan Times
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Ten more people were arrested by the city police on Wednesday, in connection with the multi-crore fraud perpetrated by homeopathic doctor turned godman Ashok Jadeja. Jadeja and wife Neetu had been held on Sunday and are in police custody for 10 days.

Jadeja, who ran a clinic near a well known temple in the city dedicated to goddess Sikotar Mata, began claiming in January that the deity had given him divine powers, which enabled him to treble any sum of money entrusted to him within a very short time. Sikotar Mata being a deity of the Chhara community (also called Sansis), hundreds of Chharas from across northern India rushed to hand over their money to him.

“We sold our land and jewellery and gave the money to Jadeja,” said Bhagmal Gujaria, resident of Polada village in Tonk district of Rajasthan. “Our neighbours kept telling us he would triple our money. Jadeja and his wife even took us to the temple and told us it was the goddess and not they, who would be doing us this favour. They were only the goddess’s agents.”

They traveled to Ahmedabad in February to deposit Rs 16.8 lakh with Jadeja. What happened when they asked for their enhanced returns? “He would keep saying ‘Abhi Mata ney nahi diya’, (the goddess has not returned it yet),” said Gujaria. “When he repeated it in May, we lodged a complaint.”

The case of Nisha Devi, resident of Rajiv Nagar in Jammu, is even more poignant. She and her father got a compensation of Rs 1 lakh after her mother was murdered by Kashmiri militants on July 13, 2002 — one of the ghastliest attacks in Jammu in which 37 people were killed. They deposited the Rs 40,000 they saved, with Jadeja in April.

“It appears the massacre has revisited us,” said Nisha. “We have lost everything.”

“Jadeja claims he started it as a financial scheme and in the early days even returned some people their money,” said R.K. Patel, deputy SP (CID, Crime). “But when people started regarding him as a blessed person, he took advantage of it.”

The police recovered around Rs 2 crore from the couple. Another Rs 1 crore worth of jewellery has been obtained from their bank lockers.