The growing culture of witch shamming

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Witchcraft, sorcery, black magic or whatever you say it as, has always been the subject of debate in India. While some blindly believing in them and rest strongly opposing the existence. But amongst all this, one thing stays common- black magic is not appreciated by anyone in the country. Due to this, many people in India are tortured, abused and murdered on false allegations of sorcery. According to the National Crime Records Bureau more than 2,000 people – many of them women, were murdered in India on suspicion of sorcery between 2000 and 2012. The cases have said to be increased ever since 1980’s. But why do India bear such crimes at the first hand?  

In history, witchery or “demonology” was a follow sanctioned by Hindu scriptures. It was also mentioned in the book- Witchcraft: A study in Indian occultism, revealed in 1981 by RN Saletore. Witchery was additionally mentioned as a profession within the Rig sacred text, associate degree ancient Hindu scripture, and was tutored at ancient Indian universities. 

The idea or the development of the “witch” as an idea emerged within the mid-1800s, once anthropology and social science began rising as scientific disciplines undertaken by colonial researchers and officers, Shashank Shekhar Sinha, AN author and skilled on native cultures.

A law penalizing witch searching was passed within the mid-1800. States like Bihar, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand have already passed acts and laws preventing witch shamming.  However several Indian states resisted it and as a result it is still prevalent in India. They thought the law was preventing them to toilsome wrong-doers. Today, witchery exists in many forms and is believed to be used for inflicting damage. It’s a paradox may be that on one hand India is one of the fastest developing nation yet on the other hand most of the population remains poor, educated and not, often turn to superstition to cure illness, find love, and rationalize bad happenings.

In many case witchcraft is used as a scapegoat. People who migrate and come in search of jobs mostly fell prey to the scenario. Villagers who are unemployed takes sorcery as a scapegoat for all their problems. Mostly making women as a target. They are targeted by large mobs, threatened, lynched, humiliated and sometimes even beaten to death. In many severe cases they are raped, paraded naked in public, fed human excreta or animal blood or subjected to other kinds of abuse. Mostly widow’s and elderly women lives in fear of being accused when a neighbor falls ill or if livestock suffers damage.

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Cases of Witch Hunting:

Speaking or telling about one story might not be sufficient to explain the scenario of witch hunting in India. As almost daily someone somewhere in the nation suffers from such crimes. However to tell you about some of the severe cases, then one comes recently from Jharkhand. Four elderly people, all ages 60 years above, out of whom two were women were thrashed to death by the group of masked men. Then there was a case in early January this year. When a group of men broke into Ms. Munda’s home at night when she and her four children – aged one, four, seven and 12, were asleep. They attacked them with wooden sticks and an axe and murdered them, later disposing their bodies inside a well. And there are numerous countless cases that happen in the country but goes unreported on daily basis. Some states like in Haryana there were around 26 cases of witch-hunting, whereas in Andhra Pradesh and Orissa 23 cases were reported, in Madhya Pradesh 17, in Chhattisgarh 15, and in Maharashtra 11 cases were reported.

So how can we counter this? One big clause or obstacle comes in the form of belief. It’s the belief of people that witchcraft exist in the country. That’s why we have witnessed even the most educated people practicing such things. So if we say that education can help tackle the issue- then it might be not the solution. First and foremost is to establish more strict laws against witch hunting in India. It’s not that the country doesn’t have such laws, it’s just that people don’t practice it. Cases of witch hunting most of the time seeks dust in the files and no action has been taken on the culprits. This paves way and encourages people to do more such activities in the future. It is our responsibility as a citizen of the nation to stick to these laws and actually commit to them. Because unless and until people don’t face the consequence of their actions- nothing can be truly resolved.  

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