In a telling example of superstition's continued stranglehold over society, a constable's wife approached fortune tellers and self-styled godmen to find out who had stolen jewellery from her house rather than filing a complaint with the police. She even allegedly abused and threatened a neighbour, Lata Nagotkar, after one of the women, who claimed to be possessed by a deity, told her that she was the thief. Nagotkar has now filed a non-cognisable (NC) complaint with the Vikhroli police against Seema and Surendra Gaonkar, who is a constable with the Antop Hill police.
Trouble began for the Gaonkars on March 31 when Seema lost gold bangles -- weighing 45 gm and valued at more than Rs 1 lakh -- from her Vikhroli house. However, despite her husband being a policeman, she decided not to file a police complaint and visited four people who claimed to be possessed by deities to find out the identity of the thief.
One of the four fortune tellers told her that Nagotkar, who was Seema's good friend, was behind the theft and the Gaonkars started abusing her and asking her about the stolen jewellery. "Gaonkar should have come to us and filed a police complaint instead of going to these fortune tellers. According to Nagotkar, Seema abused her and alleged that she had stolen the jewellery. We called the woman who had told Seema that Nagotkar was the thief to the police station but she denied having taken Nagotkar's name," said an official from the Vikhroli police.
"Nagotkar had filed an NC against the Gaonkars earlier and she did so again yesterday after Surendra threatened and abused her. We told the Gaonkars that if such possessed people could identify criminals, there wouldn't be any need for a police force to exist. We also asked Surendra why he did not report the matter to us for over a month despite being a policeman himself," he added.
Nagotkar said, "Seema and I were good friends and I treated her like my daughter. Why would I steal jewellery from her? She blamed another neighbour initially and now she's blaming me." "I told her to report the matter to the police and let them find out the truth but she refused. I decided to file another complaint after Surendra abused me on Saturday and threatened to put me behind bars," she added.
Surendra, however, denied these allegations. "I did not threaten or abuse Nagotkar. We didn't file a police complaint against her because the owner of the house in which Nagotkar stays is my friend. The delay was also because we were looking for the gold at home. Officials from the Vikhroli police have asked me to submit a complaint letter so that they can begin the probe into the theft," he said.