Woman branded a witch, nose chopped off in Bihar.
Man arrested for human sacrifice, skeletons found at his house.
Father sacrifices his own daughter to attain greater wealth.
Heart wrenching isn't it? It seems so grotesque reading such news headlines.
Such are the practices of, the art of witchcraft. Witchcraft, as surprising it
would sound to some people, still exist in the shadows of the world , hidden
from modern lights.
People in the today's world have become restricted in their thoughts and have
accepted the fact that what can be seen through eyes is only true. They tend to
forget the abstract, what culture they belonged and what are it's preachings.
This neglect , alienation and belief of nonexistence of witchcraft has led ,
that in today's world where a good sum of population are harmed by it, there are
no central statutory laws which restrict these practices. India, a country of
culture and religion, wherein lies witchcraft; but regardless of this a good
number of urban population doesn't believe in its existence.
WITCHCRAFT, (also called Witchery or Spell Craft) is the art or practices of a
witch, sorcerer, magician. The belief and practice of magic has been present
since the earliest cultures and continues to have an important religious and
medicinal role in many cultures today.In the practice of Witchcraft, ordinary
consciousness is suspended, and experiences rapture, trance or ecstasy may be
seen, more spectacular variants of these states such as wild dances and hypnotic
chanting, have become predominant in popular perception, and exaggerated tales
of naked rituals and licentiousness abound.
Magic is central not only in
societies but in 'high cultural' societies as well. Since BLACK
MAGIC, has traditionally referred to the use of supernatural power or magic for
evil and selfish purposes. Harut and Marut (mentioned in the Quran in Surah
Al-Baqarah) were two angels who are known to be behind bringing black magic to
this world. Black magic is the malicious counterpart of benevolent white
magic.ThoughWhite magic is supposedly utilised only for good or unselfish
purposes, the invocation of demons or spirits is an accepted part of black
magic, and is distinct from the worship or deification of such spiritual
beings.(2) VOODOOhas been associated with modern Black Magic
Witchcraft is an art , when used for immoral purposes,then termed black
magic.Believing in witchcraft is not necessarily problematic; the actions taken
in consequence of belief, however, may violate Human Right standards.Use of
witchcraft is not evil , it's misuse is. I am obligated to mention that,
witchcraft is also used for medicinal purposes, many doctors in India consider
witchcraft as an aid which heals the body in ways, where no medicine can heal.
Regardless, Indian people's belief in black magic is often followed by memories
of violence, torture and even mutilation. According to Times of India, a
National Crime Records Bureau report revealed that more than1,700 women were
murdered for witchcraft between 1991 and 2010. The actual numbers are much higher. Social reaction to the issue of black magic can cause felony, it allows
conmen to exploit people in the name of faith. Thus, Crimes due to these
practices is on the rise and the absence of uniform law causes perpetrators to
roam and practice these evils freely.
Where people go unpunished for practising
witchcraft for harming others , it certainly becomes a source for people to
fulfil their vengeance , prove their supremacy on others. More importantly
non-uniform state laws provides different punishment for the same offence.
Though these laws are implemented in a handful of states, absence of national
law results in inefficiency. Where such laws are not implemented, it becomes
difficult for judges to decide cases where misuse of witchcraft is alleged ,
even if a case got registered in court On What Basis Should A Judge Convict
The Accused If It Is Proved That He Practiced Black Magic
. One should imagine the
difficulty police must be facing when investigating cases relating to these
practices. In many countries abuse of witchcraft is unlawful, these practices
are also considered religiously and morally wrong (given in the Holy Quran, The
Bhagvad Gita and The Holy Bible).
When you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not
learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be
found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone
who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or
a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for
whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. (In The Holy
..Then, they used to learn from them that (black magic) with which they could
cause separation between a man and his wife. But they were not to bring harm
through it to anyone without the will of Allah. (Quran in Surah Al-Baqarah,
Worshippers of the celestial gods take birth amongst the celestial gods,
worshippers of the ancestors go to the ancestors, worshippers of ghosts take
birth amongst such beings, and My devotees come to Me alone. (The Holy Bhagavad
Geeta-BG Chapter 9.25
The misuse of witchcraft began unfortunately with a large number of Black magic
enthusiasts giving in to their greed and using these powers to attain worldly
pleasures. That is when these powers began to be mistakenly identified as the
yoga of black magic, witchcraft, seduction and an amalgam of techniques for
influencing the mind of others. With the growing rate of crimes being committed
in the name of human sacrifice, offering and prayer, it is now desperate for the
law to step in and curb such social evils.
But if it is that simple, why hasn't the law banned these practices already?
What is stopping the lawmakers from making laws against all such practices and
from eradicating them?'
INDIAN LAWS IMPLEMENTED BY GOVERNMENT
The practice of witchcraft has been a part of Indian society since time
immortal. Though it was prevalent more in the Bengal and Northeastern region
during the Mughal reign, gradually it expanded throughout the entire country.
Since the post-independence era, there have been no national laws which penalise
Section 2(e) of THE PREVENTION OF WITCH-HUNTING BILL, 2016 defines"ojha"as a
person who claims that he has got power or knowledge to identify witches and to
have a capacity to attain control over them or who uses Jhad Phoonk(blowing),
either to cure or protect from evil spirit or who causes damage, suffering or
harm for the purposes of healing any disease by giving Tabij (locket), Mantra or
any substance claiming to have the power to heal from witchcraft sufferings and
includes persons known as Guni, Shekha or Jan or by any other name.
2(h) of the bill defines "witch
" as any woman who has been branded as witch by
person or persons in belief that such women has the power to harm anyone or that
she allegedly have such intention or having the belief that she has bad eyes or
evil eyes or could do black magic or that she, by Mantras can harm people or
society at large, in any manner. Section 2(i) defines "witchcraft"as the
supposed power of a person to harm the other by:
Section 2(c) of The Drugs And Magic Remedies (Objectionable
Advertisements) Act, 1954 defines magic remedy:
- occult or supernatural means secret use of Tabij or any water or
watermixture pretending it to be sacred; or,
- any other substance or things like spell, spirits or magic power with
the purpose of causing harm, damage or sickness to other person or harm or
damage to the properties.
As a talisman, mantra, kavacha,
and any other charm of any kind which is alleged to possess miraculous powers
for or in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of any
disease in human beings or animals or for affecting or influencing in any way
the structure or any organic function of the body of human beings or
The Indian Penal Code provides a punishment of upto one year in prison and/or a
fine of up to 1,000 rupees for voluntarily causing hurt
. Most often Section 323
is used to prosecute the perpetrators of witchcraft and witch hunts. The Indian
Penal Code criminalises human sacrifice as murder and provides a penalty of
death or life imprisonment as well as a fine.
But these provisions are cures, not prevention. Witchcraft restricting laws
which have been implemented by few Indian states criminalise 'the practices and
prayers' which result in grevious hurt and death.
Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman,
Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act, 2013:
is against fraudulent and exploitative practices. The law punishes practices
like Dakin, Jadutona (black magic), Mantra-Tantra, etc. that openly exploit
gullible people. A person if convicted of the crime committed under this law,
will be sentenced to hard labour in prison from 6 months to 7 years.
The purpose of this act is to bring social awakening and awareness in the
society and to create a healthy and safe social environment with a view to
protect the common people in the society against the evil and sinister practices
thriving on ignorance, and to combat and eradicate human sacrifice and other
inhuman, evil, sinister and aghori practices propagated in name of so called
supernatural or magical powers or evil spirits commonly known as black magic by
conmen with sinister motive of exploiting the common people in the society and
thereby destroying the very social fibre of the society; and for matters
connected therewith or incidental thereto.
The State government was concerned regarding the number of incidences of
exploitation of the common people in the society because of human sacrifice and
other inhumanand practices of black magic by conmen, had continuously come to
light.Under such circumstance it became absolutely necessary for the state
Government to take appropriate and stringent social and legal measures to
effectively prevent such evil effects and spread of these harmful practicesand
to save the common people from falling prey to the sinister designs of the black
magicians and conmen.
The important thing is that this law unlike other laws has described the evil
practices which occur in the state.
The crimes described in the Ordinance are:
- Under the pretext of expelling the ghost, assaulting by tying a person
with rope or chain, beating by stick or whip, humiliating (by making the
person to drink footwear-soaked water, giving chilli smoke, hanging a person
to roof), torturing (by fixing him with rope or by hair or plucking his
hair, causing pain by way of touching heated object to organs or a body of a
person), forcing a person to perform a sexual act in the open, practicing
inhuman acts, putting urine or human excreta forcibly in the mouth of a
person or practicing any such acts.[13
- Display of so called miracles by a person and thereby earning money; and
to deceive, defraud and terrorise people by propagation and circulation of so
- Instigate, encourage or compel others to follow the inhuman, evil and aghori practices which cause danger to life or grievous hurt, with a view that
they will receive blessings of supernatural power.
- Accusing a particular person that he brings misfortune to others, or is
a cause for spread of diseases and thereby making the living of such person
miserable, troublesome or difficult and to declare a person as satan or
incarnation of satan.
- Assaulting any person, parading him naked or put a ban on his daily
activities in the name of witchcraft (locally called jaran-maran), creating
panic in the mind of public in general by way of invoking ghost or mantras or
threat, causing physical injuries thenprevents a person from taking medical
treatment and instead diverting him to practice inhuman acts or causing
financial harm by practicing or tend to practice black magic or inhuman act.
- Prohibiting a person from taking medical treatment in case of dog, snake
or scorpion bite and instead giving him treatment like mantra tantra, or such other
things.Claiming to perform surgery by fingers or claiming to change the sex of a
foetus in womb of a woman.
- Creating an impression that special supernatural powers are present in
himself, incarnation of another person or body spirit or that the devotee
was his wife, husband or paramour in the last birth thereby indulging into
sexual activity with such person. Portraying a mentally retarded person to
have supernatural powers and utilising such person for business or occupation.
OTHER STATE LAWS
Crimes against women in the name of witchcraft caused other states to implement
necessary legislation to penalise such practices.These laws do not punish
witchcraft practices unlike the Maharashtra law, but discuss about how 'in the
name of witchcraft' people are tortured.
- Though Bihar being a backward state, was the first to pass a law against
witch hunting in the year 1999, which was named Prevention of Witch (Dayan)
Practices Act. The law criminalises torture and harm caused to a woman branded
as a witch plus the Act also prohibits any harm to a woman in an attempt
to cure her; the penalty for such an act is one year in prison and/or a fine
of 2,000 rupees.This Law instead of being more strict in terms of
punishments and fines, is lenient.
- Jharkhand established Anti Witchcraft Act in 2001 to
protect women from inhuman treatment as well to provide victim a legal
recourse to abuse. Basically Section 3, 4, 5 and 6 of the concerned Act
talks about the punishment which will be granted if any one accuse someone
of being a witch, tries to cure the witch and any damages are caused to
them. Whereas Section 7 states the procedure for trial.
- Chhattisgarh government enacted the Chhattisgarh Tonahi Pratadna
Nivaran Act, 2005and Odisha government enacted the Odisha Prevention of Witch-hunting
Act, 2013to protect the people from atrocities in the name of Witch-Hunt.
- Rajasthan Government enacted the The Rajasthan Prevention of
Witch-Hunting Act, 2015, to provide for adequate measures to tackle the
menace of witch-hunting and to prevent the practice of witchcraft in the State. Assam
Assembly has passed a The Assam Witch Hunting (Prohibition, Prevention and
Protection) Bill in 2015. Though, the bill has been referred back to the
ministry, it prescribes the most rigorous punishments for witchcraft and witch
hunting and followed acts, it alsodiscusses the need for special courts to deal
with the issue and the fine collected will be given to the victim as
Even after implementation of such state laws; crimes due to witchcraft are on a
rise, difference as per provision of punishment among state laws and absence of
proper national legislation to support the state laws causes inefficiency of
existing laws. Example- Bihar Prevention of Witch (Dayan) Practices Act, instead
of being more rigorous against the practice, the laid down punishments and fines
are far less than those under the IPC for corresponding offences.
Witchcraft is practiced throughout the world. Even in the deepest jungles of
Amazon some sort of witchcraft is practiced by locals. Some countries have taken
this topic very seriously and implemented national laws which efficiently curb
Saudi Arabia takes witchcraft so seriously that it had banned the Harry Potter
series (till 2018).The Saudi government's obsession with the criminalization
of the dark arts reached a new level in 2009, when it created and formalized a
special "Anti-Witchcraft Unit" to educate the public about the evils of sorcery,
investigate alleged witches, neutralize their cursed paraphernalia, and disarm
their spells. Saudi citizens are also urged to use a hotline on a website to
report any magical misdeeds to local officials.Crimes including adultery,
armed robbery, apostasy, drug-related offences, rape, witchcraft and sorcery
are punishable by death.
In QueenslandSection 13 of the Vagrancy Act 1958 which is entitled Fortune
Telling and Pretending to Exercise Witchcraf
t, state that any person who
pretends or professes to tell fortunes or uses any subtle craft means or device
by palmistry or otherwise to defraud or impose on any other person or pretends
to exercise or use any kind of witchcraft sorcery enchantment or conjuration or
pretends from his skill or knowledge in any occult or crafty science to discover
where or in what manner any goods or chattels stolen or lost may be found shall
be guilty of an offence.
Criminal law of Indonesiaposes a serious threat to commercial sorcerers: men and
women who sell black magic to clients, often for hefty prices. Article 545
of the Criminal Code makes fortune-telling and dream-divining illegal. Article
546 makes illegal the purveying of talismans and the provision of
invulnerability. The attempt is to criminalise the black magic with criminal
policy in the sense of new offencein order to prevent criminogenesis, societies
fidgetiness and persecution.
Criminality of black magic is existed in article
293 RKUHP (Indonesian Criminal Code) which states that, Whoever claimed that he
has supernatural power, disclose, giving hope, and offer helps to other can
affect the one's physical and mental suffering, he will be brought to the prison
maximum time of 5 years or being fined, and if the criminal offenders does the
action for looking for profits or make it as livelihood or habit, then it will
In Malawi (Africa) Witches are most commonly accused of kidnapping children at
night to teach them witchcraft, which leads to community outrage and fear.
Though the Malawi Witchcraft Act is under review of law commission, the
intention of the Act was to, "eradicate dangerous practices such as trial by
order, the use of charms and witchcraft itself."It is an offence to accuse
someone of practicing witchcraft. Accordingly, it is also an offence to claim to
practices witchcraft, pretending (to practice) witchcraft, and profession of
witchdoctor or witch finder is also punishable.
Adjoining Malawi is Tanzania, where Witchcraft is a huge issue, the levels of
belief are very high, with horrific consequences for two groups in particular;
older women, and people with albinism. THE WITCHCRAFT ACT
defines 'witchcraft' as, act includes sorcery, enchantment, bewitching, the use
of instrument of witchcraft, the purported exercise of any occult power and the
purported possession of any occult knowledge. Under Sections 3, 4, 7, an act is
criminal offence under this act, if the act is to claim to possess the power of
witchcraft, to make, use, possess or claim to possess any instruments of
witchcraft, to supply instruments of witchcraft to others, to advice others on
the use of witchcraft, to threaten to use witchcraft against people or property,
to employ someone to use witchcraft, to accuse someone of using witchcraft, or
of being a witch or wizard, except when reporting to official bodies such as the
police.Section 5 limits sentences (minimum sentencesrather than maximum
sentence), it differentiates between offences committed with mens rea, disease,
injury, or misfortune and those committed without any such intent. Section 8,
gives powers to District Commissioners to order someone who is suspected of
practising witchcraft to reside in any specified locality within his district
until such order is varied or revoked. It is like a Concentration camps for
suspected witches (probably unconstitutional).
Challenges Faced And Need For Implementation Of Laws
Conclusion and Analysis
It is said that, Mughal's feared not the Army of Assam but power of the chants
in their black magic.
Though the Maharashtra Anti superstition and black magic act, curbs black magic
practices, jurisdiction of the act is limited within the boundaries of the
state. While across the country incidents like, 134 people were killed for the
alleged use of "black magic" in 2016, according to the National Crime Records
Over 2000 women killed in India for practicing 'black magic' in 14
years. The numbers are undoubtedly actually higher, as many cases go
unreported or authorities refuse to register the cases, even the victims are
tortured, traumatised and intimidated thus don't find a place in official
Efforts are made by nearly half a dozen States in India in enacting laws to
prevent misuse of witchcraft and black magic but still many states have not
shown enough of conviction against the problem. Differences as per the
punishments and fines prescribed under the state lawsdo not provide similar
treatment to the same crime.
In 2014, Debjani Bora (a national level athlete and won many medals ) was
accused of witchcraft and was assaulted in Assam. If such a crime can be
perpetrated against an acclaimed athlete anyone can fall victim to such communal
violence. Courts consider black magic practices and witch hunting as one of
the worst forms of human rights violations. In rural India, being a victim of
caste discrimination is considered way better than being termed as a witch.
Court in Bhim Turi vs State of Assam noted that in the North-Eastern states,
some people, mostly elderly women, are branded as witches and thereafter they
are subjected to severe abuse in the name of getting rid of the evil supposed to
be in them. In a case, the accused, before giving knife blows to the deceased
who was totally blind and in December years of life, had shouted saying that she
was witch and by using black magic, she had killed his mother and cow; was
punished for murder under section 302 of Indian Penal Code.
After analyzing Article 25 of The Indian Constitution, which mentions that freedom
of religion is guaranteed as long as it lies within the ambit of public order,
morality and health. Brutally murdering innocent lives for the sake of
fulfilling selfish desires surely lies outside this scope.
No punishment without law as Article 7 of Human Rights Act says - No one shall be
held guilty of any criminal offence on account of any act or omission which did
not constitute a criminal offence under national law at the time when it was
committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was
applicable at the time the criminal offence was committed. Nulla poena sine lege (No
one can be penalised on the ground of conduct which was not penal on the day it
was committed.)Increased crimes related to witchcraft is on a rise due to
absence of laws.
Though The Indian Penal Code provides a punishment of up to 1 year of
imprisonment and/ or a fine of up to 1,000 rupees for voluntarily causing hurt
which is applicable for black magic but does not protect those who get enticed
to voluntarily take harm in the name of faith (black magic) to attain worldly
pleasures. Another challenge faced is that, Practical and popular definition of
witchcraft usually differ from the formal state legal definition of witchcraft.
Most witchcraft and witch-hunt cases are dealt with by the Section 323
of the Indian Penal Code where the victim has not been murdered. This Section
prescribes a very meagre punishment which is same as what one gets on slapping a
person. The offence which involves such a grave existence of Mens Rea(criminal
intention) calls for a harsher punishment.
Premier code for criminal law was a model piece of legislation but requires
Thorough revision to meet the changing needs of the 21st century, said the
former President Pranab Mukherjee, The normal system of justice does not
deal with witchcraft problems and in its place mob justice fills the gap.
Poverty and hopelessness are important drivers of witchcraft. The limited and
difficult choices available to authorities on how to deal with the problem,
denying or accepting reality of such belief/faith law provides for an
unrestricted practice of witchcraft in most states in India.
Since Prevention is
better than cure, Indian Penal Code does not prevent commission of evil
practices, it cures it under offences like hurt and murder (Section 302for Human
Sacrifice) providing punishment. A national law, which prevents commission of
such offences, a national law which prevents evil practices, Aghori practices
and various puja (prayer) in the name of faith is absent. The Penal code
punishes the offence but not the process behind it.
The Indian Penal Code is not equipped to deal with crimes on account of black
magic and other superstitious practices. While writing this article I went
through numerous cases registered in high courts and a few in supreme courts
against the state of Maharashtra and Jharkhand where either the first
information report or the witness statement under section 161 or section 164
CrPC stated the use of witchcraft and black magic.
In many cases, a conviction
has been ordered and a charge has been framed pertaining to the accusation that
black magic or witchcraft of some form has been used. This is possible since
there is a statutory law implemented by the state government (ofMaharashtra and
Jharkhand). Punishment in Sharif khan vs state of Maharashtra  is based on
both the Indian Penal Code and offence committed under Maharashtra Black Magic
Even then Adequate punishment is not given for the use or the harm caused by the
use of such practices.
There is a dying need for a law which restricts use of anti-superstition black
magic and checks on conmen. Absence of national law causes the words such the
witchcraft or tantric or voodoo or black magic or Jadu tona to be often neglected
from witness statements and first information reports, which results in lack of
awareness amongst people and difficulty in finding cases relating to such
incidents. Many petitions like, in the state of Madhya Pradesh addressed to the
Chief Minister signed by people for want of anti-superstition and black
magic law have been started.
Even though the state of Bihar has enacted Prevention of Witch (Daayan)
Practices Act it seems to be of no use. In August 2018, a government-run
hospital in Bihar's Vaishali's district where people are treated by occultists (tantrik)
and exorcists (ojha) instead of doctors.Every superstition cannot be removed
by the force of law. For that, a mental change is necessary.People need to
be educated in order to accept such changes.
The relationship between a devotee and so-called godman is often marked by
violence.The Supreme Court in the case of Ishwari Lal Yadav v. State of
Chhattisgarh , has affirmed the death sentence awarded to a 'tantric' couple
accused of murdering a boy, by performing the ritual of human sacrifice. The
allegations against Kiran Bai and her husband Ishwari Lal Yadav were that both
of them believed in tantrism(black magic). Kiran Bai wanted to attain spiritual
powers. She was also proclaimed as gurumata (godman).
To propitiate the God,
she asked her husband and disciples who are the other co-accused along with
them, to get a small child for human sacrifice. For the purpose of sacrifice to
God, a child from their neighbourhood, aged two years then, was kidnapped,
murdered in a gruesome manner and buried, inside their house.
The acts preceding human sacrifice cannot be stopped as they involve some puja
and offerings. These offering and puja are certainly not banned under any
law. Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and Other Inhuman,
Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act, 2013, has considerably curbed not
only the act of human sacrifice but also the puja/prayer before such sacrifice
by banning it under the law. The law also makes it possible to curtail
activities of so-called godmen before they become too powerful.
Even though a
few states have their own laws against the witchcraft, still there are vital
lacunae that need to be addressed in their formulation due to its current
inefficiency.Existing state laws have not been able to control, the social
menace in regards to black magic, whether it may be through punishment or fine.
In many current laws , the term 'whoever claims', implies that a confession is
required in the court (as statement given to police is not admissible in court).
There are, however, several prima facie problems with focusing on claiming or
confessing use of such practices. First, confessions rarely occur.
Practitioners of black magic are typically thought to be secretiveor
because they do not actually believe they possess it; alleged sorcerers rarely
Black Magic in many parts of India is unhighlighted, practitioners do not usually self-identify or confess. Secondly, even if a confession did
occur, it might be difficult to get evidence from a witness. Witnesses might
be expected tofear repercussions opposing so called godman. This is another
practical weakness in the draft law.
The third problem is epistemological. From
a Western empirical perspective you cannot confess to the impossible. It is
possible to confess to theft, but it is difficult to see how one can confess to
doing something magic, if 'magic' is understood to be impossible. Magic is
considered real in Indian Law, it becomes clear that confessing to sorcery is
Someone who uses sorcery but does not confess to be punished,
isn't it a prefect crime. With very low acquittal rates, along with
widespread reports of police corruption and brutality, it is possible that
police might forcefully obtain confessions from the accused.
- Police And Society
"For every case that we hear about there are at least 10 others," Dr Richard
Hosking on witchcraft cases.
There is a "lack of adequate training for police officers" to detect abuse in
such cases as the main problems lies at the first stage of investigation.
Numerous cases are registered in the police station , where the First
Information Report (FIR, Section 154 Code of Criminal Procedure), the statement
in front of police (Section 161 Code of Criminal Procedure) contained
allegations of misuse of witchcraft and black magic; but these allegations were
neglected, in many cases these allegations are not written in such reports.
This level of incompetence assures those who practice black magic and give them
a free pass to
its unrestricted use. 'It is necessary to uproot this problem at the first
instance'. In India, the opposite is happening. If the accusations as to use of
black magic are neglected in the first instance how can they be proved, If not
proved, how can society identify it as a threat, and implement laws to curb it.
At the first stage of reporting a crime the problem is not highlighted, no
wonder a good number of Indian population are naive enough to think that these
practices occur only in (Harry Potter) movies.
When a community believes itself to be under the threat of physical or cultural
extinction, people tend to rely more heavily on supernatural
explanations.The fear of witchcraft and sorcery (known as banamati in the
local language) is deeply rooted in psyche of the common people in the Telangana
area, and in surrounding districts of Karnataka and Maharastra as well'. Said
the Atheist Centre(team headed by Dr. G. Samaram) to investigate witchcraft and
sorcery in that area. At times the criminals escape punishment for their
misdeeds. As the medical help is not available in the villages, the people fall
prey to the quacks who exploit the ignorance and ill health of people and
attribute their body ailments to sorcery and witchcraft.
The problem lies in Lack of faith; accepting social evils as a part of society,
not as a taboo- Being practiced since centuries witchcraft has formed its own
cult. Many cultures in rural India do symbolise witchcraft as a part of their
heritage. As a result, the fear of being excommunicated from a society causes
people to neglect the banes witchcraft/black magic brings. 'The unwillingness of
communities to name perpetrators and local policemen's belief in the guilt of
the accused' uplifts these practices.
Illiteracy is the main source of all problems relating to social evils,
including witchcraft. Accepting a fact without questioning its existence or
presence whether it may be a boon or bane, has been in the society since ages.
So-called 'Godman' are being treated as incarnation of gods, who fool people to
no extent. As per NSS 71st round report in rural India 27.7% male and a whopping
43.2% females are illiterate.[in rural India 72.3% Male and 56.8% Females are
Witchcraft accusations in India are on the rise being commonly linked to extreme
violence and persecution. Persons accused of witchcraft are often subjected to
physical abuse, their property and belongings vandalised or burnt, forced to
undergo dangerous religious ceremonies or even killed. Witchcraft accusations
and the associated violence are grave threats to human dignity and safety and
those accused of it suffer severe human rights violations.
Identification of risk group to prevent false accusation is essential. Risk
groups include women, elder citizens and children. Victims of witchcraft
accusations, who are most commonly children and older women, face banishment
from their communities, loss of property, arrest, imprisonment, and physical
violence. Such allegations tend to stick throughout the entire life and may
prevent proper cremation of the alleged. Those accused of witchcraft may flee
their home areas to escape anticipated harm or may be forced from their villages
by the community.
Puja Roy, in Sanctioned Violence: Development and the Persecution of Women as
Witches in South Bihar, presented case studies that demonstrated that
while communities profoundly believe in evil spirits...these beliefs and fears
are usually exploited by a few community members who have ulterior motives in
suggesting that a woman is a witch,Sarah Garap, a human rights defender
interviewed by Amnesty International, indicated that 95% of those accused,
tortured and killed are women and that those who intervene are themselves at
risk of being accused and killed.
Very rarely deaths of alleged witches and the people responsible are brought to
justice. Women who are black tongued are keenly targeted for being called a
witch. About five reports a month are lodged with police against women believed
to be witches in Jharkand state, the national figure could be in the
thousands. Hundreds of those women are subsequently killed or injuredor
are publicly humiliated, tortured, or are exiled from their village.
In Chhattisgarh, more than 100 women are tortured, paraded naked or harassed in
the state every year.The identification of witches is used as a weapon of
control against women, according to Seeds(organization for development of women
Though it is easier to remove an elderly heir of property by being called a
witch, the question now asked is, what makes a society turn on its own young
people and see in them the source of evil that threatens the whole
community?Javier Aguilar, a child protection officer for the United Nations
Children's Fund (UNICEF) highlights that the severe financial pressure faced by
parents and the sudden deaths that can occur (often AIDS or malaria-related)
cause crisis in the family a) weakening or collapse of the extended family, b)
family recomposition, c) difficulties in being a parent in a society whose
foundations and future prospects have been destroyed.
Feelings of envy,
hatred, jealousy and fear frequently accompany witchcraft accusations, which
have been interpreted as a conscious or unconscious displacement of
responsibility for a rupture in an interpersonal
relationship.Socialcrises acts as a catalyst leading to witchcraft
Health, political cultural crises - result in the collapse of communitybased
safety limit.During these critical periods of indeterminacy, when old and new
forms of social organizations are in a state of flux, the anxieties generated by
such moments are most likely to be translated into societal fears and
Economic crises-The poor can be accused of jealousyinduced witchcraft, and the
welltodo can be accused of practising witchcraft to acquire wealth.
Extreme condition include floods, earthquake cause economic disparity and
households near subsistence levels of consumption to kill (or expel) relatively
unproductive elderly household members to safeguard the nutritional status of
other members, in response to negative income shocks.
As of now what is need is urgently formulation of laws that aim at curbing such
evil witchcraft practices and only when such laws will be implemented throughout
India,then the people will repel from their unreasonable slumber towards causes
Changing attitudes includes exposing fraud and teaching critical thinking about
superstition, which sometimes runs counter to long-held indigenous beliefs.
The inefficiency to tackle this problem, due to absence of national law causes
instability and rift in the society. A Law must Criminalise black magic to
prevent criminogenesis, persecution and fidgetiness of the society.
The issued can be effectively tackled by reducing poverty in the
society, increasing employment rate, provide healthy living condition and proper
education to children, most importantly controlling the population. Creating
organized committees which educate people relating to the evils of witchcraft is
necessary. Identifying the the changes 'Law and Government' can make, and
implementing them will curb these practices.
- Indian Penal Code provides for the punishment of offences which are
committed in the processes related to Witch-hunting but not witchcraft. Also IPC
does not prevent commission of such offences, it cures it under offences like
hurt and murder. Where Nearly 2,000 people across India, mostly women, were
killed for alleged witchcraft between 2005 and 2015, the most recent numbers
available from India's National Crime Records Bureau. A national law which
prevents commission of such offences, a national law which prevents evil
practices, aghori practices, various puja (prayer) in the name of faith,
protects people from false allegations and checks on conmen is desperately
- Accusing someone of practising witchcraft is a violation of Human Rights.
As reported in many cases the accused is under life threat from his community.
The law should follow Article 11 of Universal Declaration Of Human Rights which
states 'innocent until proved guilty' and prevent mob attack on the person who
is accused. Laws be bolstered to offer maximum protection for the accused.
Legal practitioners and community members need to be held accountable to these
laws in order to better understand the concerns of communities and foster
constructive communication with the aim of eradicating harmful practices
relating to witchcraft beliefs.
- The most important legal aspect is that - the black magic is a mystical
problem; medical and forensic evidence presented in the case may not enough
to be relied upon, but proof through Evidence; Expert Evidence and Witness
Statement and in rare cases through Admission and Confession is possible.
- Common practices should be identified by each state and laws should be
implemented to restrict them. A national law should contain a brief
description of the practices which are most common, and should contain equal
and fair punishment. There should be similarity in punishment given for
similar crimes among various State Laws.
The seriousness of the witchcraft problem should be recognised and consider it to
be a stumbling block in national development. In the current national poverty
eradication strategy, the government mentions that the incidence of witchcraft
is closely associated with poverty and therefore poverty reduction will reduce
the incidence of witchcraft.
Witchcraft and black magic can also be reduced effectively by educating the
people, mainly in rural areas and by instilling in them, a sense of rationality.
Efficient laws need to be accompanied by efficient social welfare delivery
mechanisms as well.
As we know, witchcraft and black magic cases are on the rise because of a
combination of factors, including poor health and medical services and
education, poverty and in most states absence of laws. Thus, the strategy to
combat this social evil has to be developed.
As a matter of fact, the best
strategy that the Government can adopt is:
- The government should focus on the enforcement of anti-witchcraft laws. The advocacy of witchcraft laws is crucial to the Indian society as there
is no central law specifically against this evil so that there is effective
prosecution of the practitioners.
- A national law should be implemented which acts as a foundation for new
state laws to be formed and for existing laws to perform with more
efficiency. Maharashtra anti-superstition law is the most effective state
law. Thus, it should be kept in mind while forming similar laws.
- International laws should be referred from while implementing new laws.
- Local NGOs can play a very vital role. NGOs working for prevention of
witchcraft atrocities should focus on unemployed rural class and efforts to
detract attention from such adverse practices and apply their energy in
other constructive purposes.Since outside intervention in rural communities is frowned
upon, rationalists face difficultly in winning support from people with heavily
The Government should support NGOs to ease the solution. The
Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra (RLEK) has taken an interest in stopping
witch hunts and witchcraft, black magic through literacy programs in which women
directly voiced their complaints to judges and state officials in
attendance.Even the Indian Rationalist Association, which has more than
100,000 members, engages in rural outreach that teaches critical thinking and
- Government should organise groups at village level and draw up
creative plans in consultation enhance the self-confidence, economic
independence and create awareness amongst people in rural areas.
- Witchcraft usage increases in times of disparity. Government through
strategies of poverty eradication, rural integration, and relief funds
should focus on elimination of these practices.
- Important issue is the backwardness of people and the lack of
rationality in their minds, there should be campaigns launched against
superstition and the black magic practices.
- Raise awareness amongst school children, as they are the future of the
nation, so that this issue can be effectively eradicated from the grass root
level. Including the evils of witchcraft and other social evils in school
curricula can effectively tackle this problem.
- Prevention of false accusations by identifying the women, elder citizen
and children as risk groups.
- Special cells should be setup at the district and state levels for
identification of the survivors and their rehabilitation.
- Ensure proper monitoring and follow up of reported incidences.
- Including witchcraft practitioners in the police unit to act as experts.
- Police sensitivity to curb these practices at the initial stage (when
writing report) is presently low. Police should be trained and special
anti-witchcraft unit should be established to deal with such cases (like Saudi
Arabia's Anti-Witchcraft Unit). Recruits in an anti-witchcraft unit within
Saudi Arabia's powerful religious police have begun a new training course on
theoretical and practical aspects of countering sorcery and the black arts.
Police Must Deal With Witchcraft Accusations. The fact is that accusations of
practicing witchcraft may be based on any factual evidence, nonetheless, such
accusations, more often than not, invariably lead to physical violence
(including mob violence, arson, assault and murder).
Regular inspection by experts relating to witchcraft in areas where most cases
are being reported.
- Social abuse by con-men must be prevented.
- Victims of witchcraft and witchcraft accusation to be provided with
relief and compensation.
Supreme Court in Gaurav Jain v. State of Bihar, directed State Government to
undertake the following steps in order to ensure and eradicate the evil
practice of witch hunting:-some of these guidelines can work efficiently
in case of witchcraft cases as well:
- The State Government shall form a Committee comprising of experts from
the field of public administration, sociologists, etc. to look into the
prevalence of the practice of witch hunting (here witchcraft) in various
districts in the State of West Bengal with special emphasis in tribal areas
and the Committee shall submit its report to the State Government within six
months from date of the order.
- In the event of the commission of a witch hunting (here witchcraft)
related activity, officers of the special cells would promptly register
criminal cases against the offenders and take necessary remedial measures in
- The State Government may also explore the possibility of formulating a
Comprehensive Victim Compensation Scheme under Section 357A of the Code of
Criminal Procedure for victims of witch hunting (here witchcraft).
This article expresses the need for laws which restricts use of witchcraft more
importantly prevents use of black magic and informs people to know the
difference between the former and the latter. Social stigma relating to
witchcraft is enough to silence the voices of those who know about it. The
modern lights hide the old customs and practices, though they still prevail in
the society. Witchcraft and black magic prevail more in rural areas,while many
people in metro cities are excluded from knowledge its existence.
With the enactment of proper schemes and laws, eventually the mentality of
people will broaden, the social stigma relating to black magic and other
practices will diminish. These laws will make more people, become educated
enough to save themselves, even police officers will be well equippedwhen
dealing to faith based cases and finally judges will be benefitted while
deciding cases relating to such issues.
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