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UK cops caution Indians against 'babas', 'tantriks'

British police have cautioned people of Indian-origin against using the services of ‘babas’, ‘tantriks’ and bogus faith healers.

world Updated: Mar 27, 2017 21:13 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
Indians in UK,babas,tantriks
Roadside poster for an astrologer in Hounslow, London.(HT Photo)

Police in Leicesterin the east Midlands, home to a large minority of Indian origin, have cautioned the community against using the services of ‘babas’, bogus faith healers and 'tantriks', who promiselove, luck and lucre for a price.

Many people have fallen prey, parting with thousands of pounds without any results. One healer, who called himself “Kamal-ji” and conned many in the UK, the US and Canada, was jailed last year, and another faced the same fate last week.

Leicester police official Adam Makepeace, who has dealt with such cases and secured convictions, said: “The practice of spiritual healers is one that goes back many years and is mainly associated to the Asian subcontinent and Africa. These individuals are known to advertise their services within those communities.

“These people are committing fraud and we would encourage anyone approached in these circumstances to contact the authorities. The aim of the campaign was to educate communities and raise awareness that these people can’t perform miracles and no one should contact them or recommend their services.”

Last year, the nine-year prison term of Kamal-ji, whose real name is Mohammed Ashrafi, was extended by five years because he failed to pay back £613,500 conned from his victims. He reportedly owns property in India.

File photo of Kamal-ji, the healer who was sent to jail last year for for duping many people many in the UK, the US and Canada. (Courtesy: Leicestershire Police)

Sachdev Virdee of the Asian Rationalist Society Britain told HindustanTimes: "I appeal to the Asian community that now is the time to wake up, think logically and understand that ‘tantrics’ and ‘babas’ have no extraordinary powers than what you have.”

He said the society’s challenge to such individuals to scientificallyprove their extraordinary powers and win £100,000 had still not been taken up.

Anasudhin Azeez, the Indian-origin editor of Asian Lite, a leading British Asian publication, said as a matter of policy, his newspaper refuses to carry such adverts but he continues to be approached by insistent ‘babas’ seeking to advertise in his publication.

“Every week, we get at least three phone calls from ‘babas’ who want to advertise. They are ready to pay whatever the charge in the rate card. Since we never carry such adverts, we often get threats in the form of parcels containing ashes, hair, egg shells, threads, lemons and small metal bits scribbled with ‘slokas’, but it all goes straight into the bin,” he added.

Palm-reading, horoscopes and other services are offered in areas with Indian populations, including in Hounslow, Southall and Wembley in London. In some cases, police found the spiritual healers were recommended to people by relatives and friends.

First Published: Mar 27, 2017 18:57 IST