The Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS) has demanded that the anti-superstition law must be invoked in the case of the killing of nine members of a family in Mhaisal town of the state’s Sangli district in which the police have arrested two people, including a mantrik or a self-proclaimed godman who had promised the family “hidden treasure”.
The mantrik, Abbas Ahmedali Bagwan, and his aide and driver Dheeraj Suravase were arrested on Sunday for allegedly killing the family by poisoning. The police have invoked murder charges against them after their alleged role in the nine deaths.
On Wednesday, a team of MANS, including Dr Hamid Dabholkar—the son of slain anti-superstition activist and the organisation’s founder Dr Narendra Dabholkar—met Sangli’s superintendent of police Dikshit Gedam. The MANS team submitted a representation seeking application of the Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act, 2013, in the case.
They also sought stringent action against other such mantriks and self-proclaimed godmen in the district who claim to have supernatural powers and dupe people. The team also met the relatives of the Vanmore family, the Mhaisal residents’ group, and Gram Panchayat members.
The police are yet to invoke the Act in the case and investigators have said that a call invoking the anti-superstition legislation will be taken as the probe progresses.
Meanwhile, Bagwan, who was admitted to a hospital on Tuesday after he complained of chest pain during pre-arrest medical tests, will be produced before the magistrate’s court in Sangli on Thursday where the police will seek his custodial remand. Suravase was produced before a court on Tuesday, which remanded him in police custody till July 7.
Two brothers, Dr Manik Vanmore, 49, a veterinarian, and Popat Vanmore, 52, an art teacher, along with their mother, their wives and four children were found dead in two separate houses located a kilometre apart in Mhaisal on June 20.
After discovering two suspected suicide notes from the houses of the deceased family members, the police probed the possibility of the family taking the extreme step because of heavy debt. The police initially booked 25 people, most of whom had lent money to the family and were allegedly forcing them to repay. Of these 25, 19 have been arrested so far.
Special Inspector General of Police (Kolhapur Range) Manojkumar Lohiya told the Indian Express earlier that the probe revealed that the Vanmore brothers were in contact with the mantrik who claimed he would help them unearth the hidden treasure.
The police have said that over the last couple of years, the two brothers had borrowed large sums of money from people to pay the mantrik from time to time. According to their primary probe, the mantrik and his aide went to the houses of the deceased the night before the deaths on the pretext of performing some rituals and gave them something to eat, which was laced with a poisonous substance.
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