Recently we saw the unearthing of the cult group Shifu Sunkriti, which has allegedly used hypnotism to lure youth. Amongst some of its many victims is the adopted daughter of former CM Bhosale, who is yet to be traced, following the cult leader, Sunil Kulkarni's arrest.
Because of her parentage, the spotlight has fallen on this 24-year-old, who left home four years ago to join the cult group. And yet, there must be so many like her who were lured by the cult leader. Young people need to be much more careful about who they choose to follow and idolize.
Social media has become a big lure too, with these groups dangling the bait on these readily available platforms. While one can understand the gullibility of youth, you have to arm the young with a healthy sense of scepticism. They need to learn to separate fact from fiction and really ask themselves whether they should so readily believe a stranger and whether it is worth leaving their family for the ideology he is peddling.
This is an immensely difficult task for the family, but they too need to keep an eye out for red flags such as drastic changes in behaviour, kids slowly distancing themselves from the family, lack of interest in the same things they used to enjoy earlier, and unexplained absences from home. Since they are not underage, there is little that outsiders can do, within the ambit of the law. Every young person needs to stop and think, discuss matters with a family elder or a counselor and, finally, be their own judge of the cult leader.
The police, meanwhile, need to act swiftly in such cases and stamp out such shams. Those that have escaped and survived the clutches of these cults should speak out on social media, to plant the first seeds of doubt in the minds of other vulnerable youths. They may just save a life, and a family.
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