Often commuters might have noticed posters of godman promising to resolve the problems faced by people in their personal lives, financial issues accompanied by a contact number. Even though the railways had imposed fine on offenders pasting posters but they continue to indulge in these acts. Posters make the compartments look untidy. Sometimes people make calls on the numbers mentioned in the advertisements and become victims of fraud. The intention of the fake godmen is only to make money through these advertisements. Many times, the advertisements are pasted over those ones which are paid by the clients. As a result of this, clients often refuse payment to railways thereby causing revenue losses to them.
The new anti-black magic law does have ‘a provision of imprisonment of up to seven years if anyone is found pasting such advertisements in trains and, thereby, propagating superstitious practices and witchcraft’ but often offenders go scot free. Even though more than one and half years have passed after Narendra Dabholkar’s murder but the state government has failed to implement the anti-black magic law effectively.
Often, the railway police find it hard to nab and prosecute the people who order sticking of illegal bills because of procedural and legal complexities. Most of the posters have phone numbers printed on them, but no address for correspondence.
“In the absence of the address, we cannot issue summons to these people, and build a case against them,” an RPF officer said.
Ashwin Shah a Borivali resident said, “I often notice the posters of godmen pasted inside the local train compartments. It often makes the interiors of the coach look filthy. Often the fake godmen cheat innocent people by accepting money from them promising to resolve the problem faced by them in their lives.”
Rita Khanvilkar a Malad resident said, “The railways must take stringent action against the accused responsible for pasting these advertisements which often mislead people.”
“Many godmen also rape, murder and loot their customers. Commuters must come together and file compliant with the railways if they notice misleading posters of godmen inside the compartments of suburban trains” she added.
The railways are forced to spend lakhs on cleap-up of defaced trains, to seek damages from arrested offenders. They, in fact, have asked their staff at car sheds to keep a record of the number of bills removed from trains and the cost of the exercise. The figures will be used in court against offenders.
Recently the Navghar Police have arrested a 26 year old godman for giving false promise to childless couple that his wishes would bless them with a baby. Police said the accused was previously arrested by Dombivali police station for the same modus operandi.
The accused identified as Majhar Shiddhik Sheikh, a resident of Dombivali was performing spiritual activities. The victim identified as Taslima Lakdawala is a resident of Sonal Park at Bhayander West. The accused Baba Sheikh had taken almost 3 lakhs rupees from the Lakdawala for performing a miracle.