Crime 12 children rescued from slave-driver ‘godman’

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The police have arrested a selfstyled godman who had enslaved 28 people including 12 children — all of them male — so they could perform rituals and chant mantras for hours at a stretch, at his 'ashram' at Kandivli's upscale Thakur Complex.

Devendra Dubey was arrested on Friday night by Samta Nagar police, who raided his Thakur Complex bungalow — the supposed ashram — and rescued the 12 minors as well as the other young men, all of whom are under 24 and above 14 years of age.

Dubey would allegedly take money from his 'devotees' to perform rituals for their well-being, and would command the boys to do the chanting and the rites. The matter came to light after one of the boys managed to contact his kin in Surat, who then registered a complaint with Samta Nagra police. Dubey, originally from Varanasi, is said to have come to Mumbai about two years ago. Using his contacts in Varanasi, Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh, he'd 'hire' young boys to do his bidding.

Once a day, he'd give them something to eat."He got these children from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar on the pretext of giving them Rs 500-1,000 per day for performing some rituals. Tiwari, the second person arrested, was his aide in getting these boys to Mumbai," senior inspector of Samta Nagar police station, Dilip Yadav, said.

Dubey and Tiwari would force these boys to keep chanting the mantras for hours at a stretch and the smallest of mistakes would result in punishment, cops said.

"Once the boys would get to Mumbai, Dubey would take away their luggage and other belongings such as cell phone to ensure that they are not able to contact their relatives," said Yadav.

All the rescued boys were sent for medical check-up — some had swollen legs and bruise marks on their body.

Supesh, the boy who exposed the racket, had been brought to Mumbai on May 15 and held captive by Dubey ever since. He found a chance to get hold of his bag and used his cell phone to contact his relative Arwind Shuka in Surat. Shukla rushed down to Mumbai and registered a case, following which action was taken.

Police suspects this could be part of a human trafficking racket and many of the boys could be kidnapped or brought to the city forcibly. The cops are also on the lookout for one more accused who helped Dubey and his accomplice in running the godman business. It is this accused who had rented out the bungalow; Dubey and Tiwari got their instructions from him.

"Right now the children are too scared to say anything. For the past few months, they have been bearing this torture and they are traumatised. We will first counsel them and then take down their statements. We will also be contacting their parents. We need to know if the parents were aware of what their children were doing," said another official from Samata Nagar police station.

DCP Kiran Chavan said, "We have registered an offence and the investigations are on."

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