Caution is the only shield against conmen

In yet another instance of a baba proving to be a black sheep, the Charkop police arrested a tantrik who had been posing as a do-gooder, getting a 16-year-old girl drunk and molesting her for several months. They have rescued three other girls, believed to be around 13 years old, who were also living with him. According to the police, Anil Bharate (67) used to target girls from poor families. The family members of the 16-year-old survivor, who live in Kandivli, had been similarly tricked by Bharate, and they had allowed her to live with the tantrik in a flat that he had taken on rent in Virar.

This report, that made the front pages of this newspaper yesterday, is unfortunately familiar to so many we read. A conman, posing as a baba, took advantage of the poverty of these girls. While this is one case, there have been so many which have had ordinary persons charlatans, in fact, posing as divine and devout claiming to possess miraculous healing powers, who then use their mysterious hold on people to deprive them of money or even resort to sexual molestation as we know, now.

It is time people develop a healthy dose of scepticism. This applies not just to self-styled babas, but to all those who make their living and a cushy one at that through false claims, blatant lies and preying on the vulnerable and gullible.

Develop a scientific temperament, question claims and hollow statements about achievements. Learn how to see through all this. That can only happen when one has a rational, clear-thinking mind and an ability to sift the bogus and inflated talk. It is not only babas but also economic fraud, especially in cyberspace, that one needs to watch out for. With the Indian Science Congress in the city, the scientists have stressed the need for science as a base. It is more important than ever to think things through with a strong, logical mind. One need not be cynical, but sceptical. There is a fine line dividing the two. Caution is the name of the game. If things sound too good to be true, they most probably are.

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