They did not see this coming. Four self-styled godmen, with claims to prowess in astrology, were unmasked by some of their female devotees at Yamunanagar in Nigdi on Monday.
Some of the followers had approached a women’s group after allegedly being duped and molested by the quartet on the pretext of reading their palms. Members of the organisation then sent in a decoy and exposed the crooks through a stingoperation.
A case has been registered against the four accused – identified as Shyamlal Pandey, Santosh Pandey, Mahavit Pandey and Rajkumar Pandey — under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
“These men came to Yamunanagar from Gopalganj in Bihar, rented a bungalow and started the business of fortune telling. Several women used to throng their establishment, wishing to consult them over astrological issues,” said Sulabha Ubale, a member of Damini Brigade.
Over the last few days, several women had come to Damini Brigade and complained that these godmen were cheats and even touched some of them inappropriately.
“In order to expose their sham and evil intentions, we decided to conduct a sting operation in which we decided to send some women from our organisation as decoys. For instance, we asked Nirmala Patil, who is actually a widow, to go there sporting a bindi and pretend her husband was alive,” said Ubale.
Speaking to MiD DAY, Patil said, “When I went to their cottage, three people dressed like godmen, instructed me to wait outside. After a woman came out of a room, they directed me to go in.”
As Patil entered, she was met by a person sitting on a couch, who started asking her about her life and problems. “He took my hand in his and said he could see that my husband beats me and gets into unnecessary scuffles every day.
He even told me that I would die before my husband. During all this, he was staring at me inappropriately. The man then promised to provide some remedies for my domestic issues, but demanded Rs 2,000 in return,” said Patil.
She added, “After I signalled, other women from our brigade who were waiting outside the bungalow, stormed in. We then started asking them questions, gave them a bit of a thrashing and even blackened their faces.”
The women then took the accused to Nigdi police station and lodged complaints of cheating and molestation. “We have lodged a case against them under sections 354 (molestation) and 34 (common intention) of the IPC and are also verifying whether they have cheated anyone by accepting money in return of astrological remedies,” said police inspector, Nandkishor Bhosale-Patil of Nigdi police station.