ISLAMABAD - The ignorant inclination of masses towards ancient beliefs is falling them easy prey to shrewd amils and pirs, who through their cunning manoeuvres are depriving the people of their hard-earned money. The sorry does not end at amils and pirs merely, but also includes fortune-tellers, palmists and astrologists, who at the cost of masses are filling their pockets. Though such cunning moneymakers can be found at every nook and corner of the country, but mostly operate in peripheral localities and smaller cities where people can easily be trapped under their vicious net. TheNation talked to a few victims of the aforementioned lot, who reported fleecing, deception and exploitation at their hands. Basit Ikram, a cotton yarn dealer from Risalpur informed that he had started his business some twenty years ago. Initially, things worked well and he earned substantial profits. However, severe crises hit his business about a decade ago leaving him penniless. "Things went from bad to worst. I had to pay a lot of debt to several people," Ikram mentioned adding that he had tried different options to revive his business but to no avail. "At last, I went to an amil in Rawalpindi, who took eighty thousand rupees from me, which increased the debt amount, but that amil proved good for nothing" he lamented. Basit went on saying that the amil asked him to bring the brain of Markhur, an endangered species that is found in the far-fetched hilly areas of Gilgit and Skardu. "He kept on making similar demands that were impossible to accomplish. When I failed to meet his requirements, he simply refused to continue with me but gobbled my eighty thousand rupees. I abhor such amils and pirs since then," he deplored. Another victim Maqbool, a barber by profession from I-11 slums, Islamabad told this scribe that his minor daughter was suffering from a mental disease. He was misguided by his kith and kin to visit a 'pir sahib' near Sawaar Gali, Murree. "I took my daughter to that pir. He told me that an ill-intentional 'jin' had cast a magic spell on my daughter and asked me to bring her regularly for treatment," he added. I kept visiting the pir for three weeks, that cost me twenty thousand rupees besides deteriorating my daughter's condition," he added. Maqbool further told that his daughter was later operated by a prominent neurosurgeon in Lahore and is leading a normal life now. "A poor man like me who lives in slums cannot afford twenty thousand rupees go wasted. But I've learnt a lesson, never to trust these people," observed Maqbool. An official from Federal Board of Revenue, (FBR), wishing anonymity, told TheNation that he was trapped by a palmist a few years ago. "That juggler charged me Rs 5000 per appointment for palm reading. Whatever he had predicted about my future through his 'astrological knowledge,' all proved wrong," he deplored. The official mentioned that lately, the aforementioned palmist become a columnist of a prominent Urdu daily but kept on practicing palm reading till he died. It has been witnessed that such amils, palmists and astrologers are propagating their activities through electronic and print media, now a day. The private cable operators accommodate the local ads of amils while the so-called astrologers are extensively advertising through some newspapers, thus inviting the immediate attention of the sleeping authorities concerned.