Advertisements of phony babas surface again in Hyderabad buses

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Hyderabad: Advertisements of miracle cures performed by phony ‘babas’ have once again surfaced in trains and buses even though the police says that they are regularly “cracking down” on these fraudsters.
The advertisements promise to end marital discord or girl/boyfriend problems, recoup business losses, improve health and solve education related problems etc. All these wonders will be effected by the baba’s spiritual powers, claim the advertisements.
In the last three years, the south zone police have arrested at least 30 such fraudsters for cheating women by promising to help them get rid of their problems.
Some were arrested on the even more serious charge of sexually assaulting women.
“Still, the problem has not come to an end. The minute the police launches a crackdown, the fake babas stop their activities and resume them later. A special team should be formed to monitor these social issues in south zone,” says S.Q. Masood, a social activist.
There is no end to the number of fake spiritual leaders cheating and duping people into believing they have supernatural powers.
“They place advertisements on local cable channels and in public places. These are the new set of ‘babas’ who settle down in a particular locality with an eye on the money they can make,” says Asma Parveen, a women’s rights activist.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (south) V Satyanarayana says that following repeated crackdowns, the menace has come down substantially.
“We arrested several fake babas for cheating people and registered cases against them. In some instances, where the public did not approach us, we collected information on our own and raided the places,” says Satyanarayana.
The police invoke Section 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code and also the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act of 1954.
But crime lawyer M.A. Azeem says that suo motu cases (where a government agency acts on its own cognisance) do not stand scrutiny in a court of law.
“Moreover, under these sections, the respondent easily obtains bail,” he said.
Another social activist points out that though a number of fake babas have been caught, there have been hardly any convictions.

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