Kerala vociferously boasts of being much ahead in their social and cultural standards due to education and public consciousness.
Despite the progress, shameful exploitations in the name of sorcery and black magic rituals nudges our conscience reminding us that we are still centuries behind in the case of social evils and crude beliefs. It’s while the outcries for instigating stringent laws to eliminate witchcraft and black magic practices continue, that the news of one more life sacrificed in the name of superstitions, come to light. Shameena, a 29-year old single mother of two, died after suffering severe burns during a black magic ritual in Nadapuram, Kozhikode early Wednesday morning. Najma, a Kuttiadi resident who performed the rituals was booked under sections 304, 308 and 326 of the Indian penal code. She had reportedly, created a ‘Homa Kundam’ as part of the ritual and poured petrol to the fire which flared up causing about 80 per cent burns to Shameena. She died at a private hospital in Kozhikode. Shameena, a divorcee, had sought the help of the sorceress to find a new alliance.
The boundaries of caste and religion as well as the virtues acquired through education and progressive beliefs all crumble before superstitions and evil practices. These incidents of sorcery and black magic shows that ignorance and loss of self-esteem would drive the common man to extreme extents. One of the main techniques of such fake ‘specialists’ is brutal thrashing and violence. A 19-year old girl had died in Pathanamthitta district two years ago after sustaining over forty wounds on her body during a black magic ritual. Most often, those suffering from epilepsy are subjected to such crude rituals mistaking it for spirit possessions. Black magic today, has a huge market. It’s due to the wrong influence of the human gods and bogus practitioners that even those whom we deem educated, go in search of such ‘shortcut’ methods and expect relief through such rituals. The so called Djinns, sorcerers and magic practitioners have neither been able to cure any ailments nor ever suggested any solutions for resolving the problems. It’s when the government and social and religious organisations fail to convince the people about such basic aspects and create an awareness among them that such tragedies claim the lives of people.
We have many a times reminded the government of its responsibility in dealing with those who exploit the religious weaknesses of people and carry out fraud and physical violence. An anti-superstition legislation was passed during the tenure of the erstwhile government to curb the superstitious practices and evil rituals in the state. But the law merely remained on paper. Maharashtra had in 2013 passed the Anti-Superstition and Black Magic Act titled ‘The Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act’, drafted by ADGP (Intelligence) Hemachandran after a series of evil rituals claimed the lives of people. Carrying out fraud and extorting money, causing physical or mental injuries and pecuniary loss to any person by way of supernatural or magical acts and sexual offences committed under the cover of superstition or black magic, are some of the crimes punishable by law. There are provisions for increasing the stringency of the punishment depending upon the severity of the crime.
Since the social ambience in Maharashtra is entirely different from that in Kerala, the related papers are stuck in legal tangles after the suggestions that more legal advices should be sought on the matter. Even though social evils could not be eradicated by law alone, experiences prove that reining-down such practices have become inevitable. If the countless organisations in the social, religious and cultural fields fail to battle superstitions and evil practices and bring the culprits before the law, their enthusiasms are sure to go in vain. Even as humans make giant leaps in the field of science and technology, ‘mysterious’ beliefs, practices and absurd rituals continue to surface. This reality should be taken into account before making any move in this direction.