Law finally catches up with them, 17 of them held since Feb. 28

When old city residents lose their mobile phones or jewellery, they do not rely on the mobile tracking system or call the police. Instead, they approach a ‘baba' to trace them with the help of an egg!

The egg when placed in a saucer in front of the ‘baba' supposedly indicates the direction where the stolen property is located. But, it's not easy to get through to the ‘baba' as the 70-year-old Sama Masroor of Moghalpura is well-known.

A prior appointment and half-a-kilometre queue has to be surmounted before he listens the tales of woe. Many citizens have been rushing to him seeking to trace their valuables, including personal mobiles. More than one visit has to be made, each time with a different egg and paying Rs.500 for each appointment.

Despite there being no guarantee of the ‘baba' tracing the missing valuables, it has not stopped people from flocking him. His stock reply has always been: “Don't lose heart; one day you will definitely get your phone back.”

But, nemesis caught up with him finally with the Moghalpura police arresting him on Sunday allegedly for duping people by indulging in such practices which also includes powers to cure various aliments. The old city has many such tricksters conning the common man with false promises.

Another ‘baba', identified as Shaik Ikramuddin alias Mansoor Quadri, 43, of Chatrinaka, used to dupe people about curing aliments. He used to perform some strange rituals by photographing the patients. Over 400 photographs, including 200 of several gullible women were recovered from his house after the police conducted a raid couple of days ago.

Quadri used to work as a welder and unable to meet his ends with his meagre earnings, he overnight transformed himself into a ‘baba' and began to hoodwink people. Fifty-year-old Yaba of Moghalpura is another of this tribe who landed in the jail cheating citizens by falsely promising them Rajiv Swagruha houses.

He collected Rs.60, 000 each from potential buyers and took them to the project sites stating that houses were allotted to them. But, his game was up when some of them inquired with the officials and realised that they were cheated. Police inquiries revealed that some of these ‘babas' are also maintaining illicit relationship with the women clients.

In all, the city police have arrested 17 such fake ‘babas' from Moghalpura, Falaknuma, Chatrinaka and other areas during a crackdown launched since February 28.

DCP (South) Manish Kumar Sinha said the crackdown was launched after a woman from Santoshnagar lodged a complaint that a fake ‘baba' from Langer Gouz had cheated her. “We first kept a tab on the activities of these babas and later raided their premises,” he explained. Cases under Section 420 (cheating) of IPC and Drugs and Magic Remedies Objectionable Advertisement Act were booked against the accused and arrested them.

Keywords: fake babasconmen