In a bizarre crime spree, thieves apparently lurked freely among thousands of devotees, including women, at a 2-day spiritual congregation addressed by self-styled 'guru', Dhirendra Krishna Shastri at Mira Road town and targetted many women attending.
According to the Mira Road police, after the 26-year-old Shastri's discourses ended, at least three dozen women have lodged complaints of their gold chains being stolen during the two-day congregation.
As per the complaints, the victims have lost their gold chains, mostly 'mangalsutras', weighing between 5 gm to 25 gms, either made in pure gold or with other metals.
The Mira Road Police have pegged the total value of the stolen booty at a staggering Rs 4,87,000!
The event of Shastri - which had sparked off a political row here - was held at the sprawling Salasar Central Park grounds, attracting more than 200,000 devotees, including a large number of women.
At one point, due to poor management, it led to a near-stampede on Saturday in which one woman devotee was injured after which the local police had started security checks and crowd control at the entry points to the venue.
Many women had been lured by Shastri's purported "miracles" and "healing powers", and had come in hopes of some cure, but some returned not only disappointed but minus their gold chains/mangalsutras, said an official.
The organisers, the Shantaben Mithalal Jain Charitable Trust, had invited Shastri - the head priest of Bagesgwar Dham in Madhya Pradesh's Chhatarpur - for the event even as some rationalist groups had opposed it and written to police not to grant permission.
Besieged with so many complaints, the Mira Road Police have lodged a common FIR for the first three dozen women victims, and are scanning the CCTV footage of the venue to identify the chain-snatchers in the huge crowds and catch the culprits.
( 318 Words)