Not many people had heard of Dimas Kanjeng Taat Pribadi until recently, when East Java Police declared him a suspect of murder.
Dimas was the cult leader of a ritual group, Padepokan Dimas Kanjeng Taat Pribadi, in Probolinggo, East Java, who claims to have the ability to multiply banknotes. His supposed mystical power attracted hundreds, if not thousands, of supporters, who regularly gathered at his secluded residence.
Surprisingly, among his followers was Marwah Daud Ibrahim, a US doctoral graduate who once led the Indonesian Muslim Intellectuals Association (ICMI).
On Wednesday, East Java Police named Dimas a suspect in the murder of his former students Abdul Gani and Ismail Hidayah.
“The police are investigating his motive. Both victims were known to be students of his,” East Java Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Argo Yuwono told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.
Aside from the murder case, Dimas is being investigated for alleged fraud and money laundering.
Adj. Sr. Comr. Cecep Ibrahim, an officer with the East Java Police’s general crimes unit, said Dimas had been reported for fraud causing total financial losses of Rp 1.5 billion (US$115,500). The plaintiff was no other than Dimas’ former adviser. “He is scheduled to provide an explanation to the police,” Cecep added.
Dimas’ ritual group was the latest cult phenomenon in the country. In a rather similar case, Gatot Brajamusti, the leader of Padepokan Brajamusti, was arrested recently over drugs. Gatot was a nobody until some actors and singers, such as Elma Theana and Reza Artamevia, made him their spiritual teacher.
Reza reportedly got closer to Gatot shortly after her marriage was in trouble, but it was surprising to find Marwah joining Dimas’ group.
“I don’t understand why Marwah became trapped in this. She is a very rational person,” sociologist Imam Prasodjo said.
More than 20,000 people reportedly became supporters of Dimas. Videos showing him sitting on a chair, dressed in white and pulling out Rp 50,000 and Rp 100,000 banknotes from his back, have gone viral on social media.
Imam explained that people’s rational views were often overshadowed by their beliefs.
“Poor people are trying unconventional ways of making money, whereas rich people are often under pressure to find shortcuts to make more money,” he said.
Former Constitutional Court chief justice Mahfud MD recalled his experience of being invited by Marwah to visit Dimas’ place in Probolinggo in 2014. He said the visitation had been unplanned and he had just gone along out of respect for Marwah.
“It looked more like a martial arts school,” he told The Jakarta Post.
Then, when Dimas started the recitation, he introduced Mahfud MD as one of his Islamic school students, which offended him. He was of the opinion that Dimas did not look like a Muslim cleric at all because he could not recite prayers fluently or pronounce Arabic words correctly.
Mahfud urged law enforcers to investigate the case further. He added he read the news Tuesday, showing a picture of Dimas standing besides police with wads of cash inside boxes. The news stated that the money from Dimas had been taken to a bank and proven to be real.
“That means the money was stolen from some place. Thus, there should be further investigation into how he acquired that money,” he said.
Natsir Zubaidi from the Indonesian Ulema Association (MUI) said the MUI had issued 10 criteria to determine if a teaching was deviant. “If the public think a teaching they hear is included in those 10 criteria, then it is a deviant sect and they need to be careful,” he said.