The Hyderabad police arrested yet another 'baba' on Wednesday, for allegedly repeatedly raping a 26-year-old woman in Meeraj Colony.
The Humanyun Nagar police said that the 'baba', identified as 30-year-old Abdul Manan, claimed to have supernatural powers, and constantly abused the victim, in the pretext that this was the 'cure' to her problems.
However, this isn't the first such arrest in recent times.
According to reports, there are gangs of such fake babas on the prowl in Hyderabad's Old City area, which has seen the most number of such cases being reported. The police said that most of them were unemployed and poorly educated, but had educated followers. A few of the babas had people working in MNCs and IT industries as supporters.
1. Earlier this month, the Asif Nagar police in Hyderabad arrested 30-year-old Syed Akhot Ghori, after he allegedly duped a family of Rs 70 lakh, to 'cast away evil spirits'.
“The accused used to be a baba in Karnataka and practiced black magic. When the victim approached him, the accused told the complainant that the family need to get rid of evil spirit and would perform black magic and the accused collected Rs 70 lakh," the police had said.
2. In the last week of September, a 44-year-old self-styled 'Godman', who made frequent TV appearances as an astrologer, was arrested by the Hyderabad police for allegedly sexually exploiting several women.
The accused, identified as Narasimha Charyulu, claimed that he would solve marital problems of couples and then trap women, the police said.
The Meerpet Special Operation Team, which arrested the accused, said that the self-claimed 'baba' was a Class 10 pass out and had made astrology the bait. He became popular after appearing on TV, claiming to provide astrological solutions to health, wealth and marital problems.
3. In August, the Hyderabad police arrested Shaik Abdul Raheem, alias 'Bhai Miya' after he allegedly molested a woman.
The baba, made his followers believe that he had the ability to transform a female foetus into a male foetus, by influencing the DNA of the unborn child, at a cost of Rs 20,000.
The activities of the babas are not just confined to Hyderabad alone.
4. In August, the Karimnagar rural police arrested 60-year-old Pidathala Venkatswamy and found 56 idols of gods, rings, pendants and other ornaments in his possession.
Venkatswamy used to dupe innocent people by collecting amounts ranging from Rs 30,000 to Rs 1 lakh to perform pujas for vaastu, treasury hunt, fertility, jobs, marriage, high crop harvesting and others.
Many of these accused, also indulged in other unique activities.
5. In September, the SR Nagar police arrested an astrologer, who allegedly duped people by passing off ordinary stones, as diamonds, and selling them for a high rate.
The police seized 97 such 'diamonds' from his possession, after his arrest.
"He offered cheap colourful stones he had bought from the pavement of Charminar, and collected huge money from his clients. He said that they were genuine diamonds purchased from eminent jewelers in the city,” ACP Punjagutta, M Venkateshwarlu was quoted as saying.
The increase in number of babas and godmen and godwomen shows that a larger number of people are willing to invest their faith, energy and money in them. And for the police it is becoming a tough job weeding out the fraudsters.