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Days before he was shot dead by unidentified assailants, anti-superstition activist Narendra Dabholkar was planning to launch a major offensive against the flourishing business of astrological gem stones, the Pune district president of his Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti (MANS) said Thursday.
Rajendar Kankaria said Dabholkar had asked district level committees in Pune to be ready to start a major campaign in September. An August 12 press statement from MANS had drawn attention to the business, which Kankaria guessed could be worth over Rs 50 crore in Pune district.
He said the Pimpri-Chinchwad unit had taken up a similar issue of magic remedial stone in 1984 and he had asked Dabholkar to take up the issue again due to a sudden rise in their numbers in the area now.
“Unscrupulous elements purchase semi-precious stones at Rs 200 per kg from markets in Gujarat and Mumbai. Once they are polished and weaved into ‘magical amulets’ and other ornaments they are sold at gem stone shops with prices ranging from Rs 2,000 to Rs 50,000,” he said.
The campaign was supposed to be finalised soon and launched after the Ganpati festival, with Dabholkar asking his colleagues to collect as many complaints as they could. “We will be taking up the issue, it will be a fitting tribute to the man,” Kankaria said.
A senior Pune Police officer said the crime branch would probe this angle as well while investigating the case.