A self-proclaimed godman near Pune allegedly repeatedly raped and molested five women, including four minors, of a family after telling them he could “remove a spell of black magic” cast on them, and also “find hidden wealth”, the police said. The 32-year-old accused, who has now been arrested, also married a 19-year-old victim.
The accused has been identified as Somnath Kailas Chavan, and hails from Roha in Raigad district of Maharashtra.
The incident came to light after some family members contacted activists of the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS), an organisation of anti-superstition activists founded by slain rationalist Dr Narendra Dabholkar. The activists helped the family approach the police, who subsequently filed an FIR.
As per the primary information given by the police, sexual abuse and exploitation of the woman and minor girls began in the third week of January and went on for over a month. While one of the victims is 19, four others are aged between 10 and 17. Officials said the suspect came in contact with the family over a month ago and told them there was a spell of black magic on them because of which no male child was born in the family. He also told them their lives were in danger.
The accused said he could remove that spell and also help them uncover hidden family wealth. He said he would perform several rituals for the same. He also took more than Rs 3 lakh from the family.
Over a period of one month, Chavan repeatedly molested, sexually abused and raped the five victims on the pretext of the rituals. He also married the 19-year-old. He then threatened the family members not to tell anyone about the rituals or else their lives would be in danger.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Ram Jadhav told The Indian Express Chavan was arrested immediately after the FIR was registered.
The police is also investigating Chavan’s past to see whether he had committed similar crimes, Jadhav said.
According to the police, Chavan is already married and has two daughters.
Milind Deshmukh of the MANS who helped the family approach the police, said, “The family approached us two days ago. We counselled them and helped them approach the police. An FIR was immediately registered and a probe was launched.”
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