Ahmedabad, June 22: Goats may not be as exalted as black bucks, but killing 2,000 of them has landed Rama Ganga Bhaat behind bars.
The Jamnagar tantrik had perfected an impressive act for the benefit of the hundreds he had swindled over three decades, doing them out of anything between Rs 5,000 and Rs 1 lakh by promising magic cures.
He would sit for a puja, drink a bottle of liquor supplied by his clients, kill a goat, drink its blood before them and work himself up to a frenzy.
The “tantrik tantrums”, however, got the goat of an animal lover who decided the man needed his comeuppance.
Thus around 5 am on May 4, Jayant Pandya, head of Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha, a Rajkot-based NGO engaged in a fight against superstition, was woken up by a woman caller who told him the tantrik had just “sacrificed” another goat.
She said the 62-year-old Bhaat would generally have around him a group of rowdy elements who encouraged him to carry out the ritual because it meant free meals of mutton for them.
Bhaat was arrested from Jambhanbabia village near Jamnagar yesterday and sent to jail after a court refused to grant him bail. He has been charged with fraud, cruelty to animals and flouting the state’s prohibition laws.
After the anonymous woman’s frantic call, Pandya’s colleagues in Jamnagar visited the tantrik, one of them posing as a mental patient. Bhaat said he had a cure that involved the sacrifice of a goat.
He boasted he could even cure infertility, and that his powers drew clients from Delhi, Mumbai and Rajasthan, his home state.
Pandya got in touch with local police and laid a trap. About a week ago, a man and a woman posing as an NRI couple went to Bhaat, saying they had been unable to bear a child.
The tantrik promised a cure. He asked for Rs 16,000, of which Rs 5,000 must be paid in advance so that a goat and other puja materials could be bought. The puja was fixed for June 21.
Yesterday, around 11 am, the couple met Bhaat while Pandya and a team of policemen waited some distance away. As the tantrik, who had asked for two bottles of English liquor, got into his act, the couple signalled to the police.
Bhaat has confessed to killing more than 2,000 goats. His son, too, has killed at least 100, he said.