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At the alter of superstition

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At the alter of superstition
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In a shocking incident in Mundanmudi, Idukki, four of a family, namely Krishnan, his wife Susheela and children Arsha and Arjun, were brutally murdered and their dead bodies were found buried near their house.

Naturally this has become a hot topic of discussion in Kerala. The incident took place on the midnight of 29 July and the 40-member police team that investigated the case was able to track down the perpetrators in a matter of 4 days, and thus winning a government reward. The main culprits have been caught by now and crucial information about the crime has been gathered by the police. As per the facts compiled, Anish who was an assistant of Krishnan, himself is the mastermind behind the crime. In the firm belief that Krishnan had been able, through pujas of black magic, to amass huge amounts of money and gold ornaments, he wanted to steal them.

More than that, when the disciple's magic did not work, he got advice from another black magician that he could liquidate the guru (master) and absorb all the magical powers of the 300 totems with him, into himself. Anish believed this advice fully and that was what drove him to the heinous act. The knots of the murderous conspiracy were untied when the conspiracy was disclosed to the police by Libish, another complicit in the crime, who was inducted into the crime under promise of a share of the haul. The arrested member of the gang has also admitted to the police that after bludgeoning on the head and brutally torturing the victims, they pushed Krishnan and his son Arjun alive into the pit.

Barring minor variations in the scale of cruelty and the count of victims, the incident in Mundanmudi is not the first, not even the hundredth, in the country in the name of pure superstition like black magic. We have to admit, even with shame, that ours is the society most ridden with superstition and irrational practices. Over millennia, Indians have been living on irrational and senseless superstitions. Absurd beliefs including black magic, sorcery, witchcraft, astrology, necromancy, spellworking, Hanuman ring, and Arab miracle fetish, are all used easily by human gods, saints, poojaris and priests to derail not only the common man, but even the educated and intellectuals, to the point of exploiting them financially and sexually in the name of exorcism or retribution.

There are no laws to stop them from this exploitation going on unchecked. Nor is there sufficient official machinery to save the scapegoats of superstition. On the other hand, the media are vying with one another in providing them with more victims through advertisements that sing praise of such false gods and sorcerers. What more, we have even state governments that chose a mining spot, spending crores of rupees, at a point shown by one who misled them into believing that he had hermit-like gifts. Such perceived powers, that are 'presented' before the people as absolute reality, are those that no one in human history has till now seen or heard or experienced. Such 'gods' are then worshipped or appeased and shrines built for them; not stopping there, if some anti-social elements behave without respect for them, even major riots are created in their name.

In the ultimate analysis, it is for sexual abuse and money that any holy figure will indulge in such base acts, as has been revealed through numerous instances. Still, neither governments nor the people seem to be learning any lesson. Our Income Tax officials, who conduct series of raids in the homes of company owners, traders and businessmen, never go anywhere near the centres of black magicians, sorcerers or the wholesalers of superstition. Nor do they ask for their accounts. Things have worsened to such a pass that human rights and social activists who attempt to create awareness against such abuses, get assassinated. Dabholkar of Maharashtra and Kalburgi of Karnataka were ruthlessly assassinated by superstitious groups. But their case investigations have till now got nowhere. Neither have the culprits been brought before law.

Although laws banning such superstitious practices have come into force in Maharashtra and Karnataka, there are no indications of governments having taken action in accordance with them. In Kerala, the call for similar legislation has ended up as a cry from wilderness. Even the LDF government is belying hopes that there will be hold steps in matters of that nature. Just as it is said that all who kill by the sword will die by the sword, the tragedy of Krishnan's family is that the ones who set out to live by black magic got killed by its practitioners. What is to be watched is whether the government, social organizations and humanitarian collectives will throw their heart and soul into making the Krishnan family's tragedy the last of its kind in Kerala - which boasts having reached the pinnacle of progressiveness and reforms.

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