In a bizarre turn of events, a remarkable deception has unfolded in Uttar Pradesh’s Amethi district, revealing the unexpected return of a man who vanished without a trace 22 years ago at the tender age of 11. This individual, identified as Arun Singh, also known as Pintu or Pinku in some accounts, reappeared disguised as a ‘sadhu’, purportedly seeking alms from his own mother. However, investigations later revealed that this was an intricately orchestrated scheme aimed at deceiving the boy’s family, with an impostor named Nafees posing as Arun Singh.
Arun’s reunion with family
Arun Singh, the son of Ratipal Singh from Kharauli village, had vanished from his home in 2002 following a dispute with his parents when he was just 11 years old. The recent incident of his purported return to the village after more than two decades garnered widespread media attention. A poignant video capturing the tearful reunion of ‘Arun’ with his family circulated widely on social media, depicting the man disguised as an ascetic playing the sarangi, a traditional three-stringed musical instrument, and singing melancholic tunes while soliciting alms from his ‘mother and aunt’.
The saga began when a man arrived in Kharauli village on January 27, intending to undertake the rites of becoming a sanyasi, claiming to be the same boy who had left his family 22 years before. Alerted by the villagers, the parents, who still reside in Delhi, were informed of the situation and promptly travelled to the village.
This story, about a Hindu boy who went missing 22 years ago and returned to his mother as a monk, made everybody emotional.
However, in a turning point, the police discovered that the boy claiming to be ARUN is actually MD NAFEES, who planned this drama to scam the family.
— Mr Sinha (@MrSinha_) February 10, 2024
Notably, they purportedly identified the individual as Pinku based on a scar on his body.
The poignant reunion proved to be fleeting as the man expressed his need to leave the village after receiving alms from the woman, citing his obligation to return to his math. ‘Arun Singh’ clarified that his visit was driven not by familial bonds but by religious rites. In his tradition, aspiring monks undergo a ceremony where they accept alms from their mothers.
He recounted his education at the Parasnath Math in Jharkhand, stating that his guru instructed him to visit Ayodhya and then seek alms from his family as part of his initiation. Allegedly, his guru emphasised that this step was crucial for the completion of his initiation.
Demads 11 lakh rupees
Despite the family’s desire for him to stay and abandon his ascetic life, ‘Arun’ initially declined. However, he later informed his monastery that severing ties would necessitate a payment of Rs 11 lakh. This sum, he claimed, would cover the expenses of feeding and gifting items to 3000 saints, amounting to approximately Rs 350 per saint.
The family found this amount exorbitant, with Pinku’s father expressing his financial constraints by stating, “I do not even have Rs 11 in my pocket, how can I pay Rs 11 lakh?” After negotiations, the amount was reduced to Rs 3 lakh 60 thousand, which the family arranged by selling 14 biswa of land.
On February 1, Ratipal Singh’s family and villagers reportedly donated 13 quintals of food grains to the man as alms, facilitating his return to his math to finalise his departure from the institution. Ratipal also provided him with a mobile phone for communication during this period. The provisions were loaded onto a pickup truck and sent to Ayodhya, with one of Faujdar Singh’s nephews from Bani village accompanying ‘Arun’.
Meanwhile, certain villagers began to cast doubt on the notion that a saint would need to pay a hefty sum like Rs 11 lakh to renounce his monastic life. While it is customary for some monasteries to require disciples to visit their families as part of initiation rituals, the villagers were unfamiliar with the concept of feeding 3000 saints as a prerequisite for leaving sainthood.
How Arun got exposed?
Consequently, on Friday (February 9), Ratipal Singh and several other villagers travelled to the address provided by the truck driver in Ayodhya, only to realise that they had fallen victim to an elaborate scam. Upon arrival, they were dismayed to discover that the location was devoid of any presence of ‘Arun’.
Subsequently, the truth emerged, revealing that the individual claiming to be Arun Singh, also known as Pintu, was actually a professional imposter named Nafees, hailing from Tikariya village in the Gonda district of Uttar Pradesh. Additionally, it was uncovered that there was no Parasnath Math in Jharkhand.
A family history of fraud
According to a report by Jagran, several families in Tikariya village are notorious for engaging in such fraudulent activities. Many individuals from the village have been incarcerated after being apprehended for deceiving people by posing as Sadhus. In its investigation, Jagran discovered that the fraudster, Nafees, is married to a woman named Poonam and has a son named Ayan.
Allegedly, Nafees had previously visited the village and learned about the case of the missing boy Arun through conversations with the locals. Subsequently, he devised a plan and arrived in the village on January 22, claiming to be a native of the area who had sought refuge at the Math after fleeing the village 22 years ago.
Nafees has four siblings, one of whom, Rashid, is allegedly involved in similar deceitful practices. According to the report, Rashid assumed the guise of an ascetic and visited Sahaspura Parsodha village in the Chunar police station region of Mirzapur on July 29, 2021. Exploiting the case of Ravi, also known as Annu, who had disappeared 14 years ago, Rashid followed a pattern similar to Nafees’s actions with Ratipal Singh. He approached Annu’s mother, masquerading as her long-lost son, and requested alms as part of the sanyas tradition to ensure the success of his journey. Moved by emotion, the family welcomed Rashid into their home. However, after several days had passed, Rashid absconded with a substantial amount of money. Subsequently, the police apprehended him and exposed his fraudulent scheme.
Interestingly, Nafees’s father-in-law, Mukesh, despite having a Hindu-sounding name, is Muslim, as per the Jagran report. Mukesh’s brother was also involved in a scam where he posed as a Yogi and defrauded a family in Varanasi. On July 14, 2021, Mukesh’s brother visited the home of Kallu Rajbhar, a resident of Hajipur village in the Cholapur police station area of Varanasi, pretending to be his missing son, Sunil. Adopting the persona of a sanyasi, Mukesh’s brother then requested alms from Kallu’s wife, addressing her as his mother in accordance with the tradition symbolising a Yogi’s transition into monastic life. Eventually, the impostor, Sunil, was identified as Mukesh’s brother from Tikariya village in Gonda.
Meanwhile, Superintendent of Police Dr. Ilamaran G. emphasized that the Station House Officer (SHO) in Jais has been instructed to maintain vigilance in this matter. The police remain in constant communication with the affected families and are actively investigating the situation. The administration has urged the public to exercise caution when encountering unfamiliar individuals posing as sadhus.