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Students-police join hands in noble bid to eradicate belief in witchcraft

Mail News Service

Jamshedpur, Nov 4: Culture, thought patterns and the drive to move forward and make socio-economic and socio-cultural breakthroughs have marked the progress of mankind through ages of course, maintaining the sanctity of various cultural traditions. Yet, the image of modern man is tarnished as people especially those in rural belts stick to the age old fallacy of witchcraft and sorcery with unwavering faith in something that actually never happens. But, in spite of it all, the stigma still exists and simple, harmless women are meted out the meanest levels of humiliation and death. If memory serves right, in recent months, a middle aged woman in a Bihar suburb was made to eat human excreta and urine and paraded naked on suspicion of being a witch.

This is the result of a lack of education. Women have been publicly insulted in the name of practicing witchcraft. Many a time it has been discovered that those who have dubbed these harmless and helpless women as witches had motives deeper than what was apparent. There have been concrete evidences of people accusing them of being witches and heretics because either they were young widows and attractive and scheming men lusted after them. On being refused satisfaction of their baser cravings, these men of socio-political clout took their revenge by dubbing them withches and villagers taking them for their word did the rest – humiliated and killed them. Some other cases pertain to such men with eyes on mostly widows’ properties. If they failed to grab them, the legitimate holders met the fate of witches.

Such practices persist mostly in rural belts. Baharagora police OC Chandrashekhar Kumar who has initiated a drive against such social fallacies and misnomers informed that the police in a joint bid to eradicate the qualms and antisocial belief among people of the 21st century that witches and black magic practitioners still exist has involved students of Baharagora High School in this important, mass movement. Students of classes 8 to 10 have been put in one group while those of inter in another group. They are to make posters on chart sheets measuring 3 feet x 2 feet and write slogans on them in an attractive manner. These posters containing the names of students, their mobile numbers and class are to be submitted at the Baharagora police station by November 5. Prize winning entries would be awarded.

OC Chandrashekhar Kumar who is spearheading this highly important social move recounted an incident of the recent past that happened in Bankata village where a couple were brutally murdered on suspicion of being black magic practitioners. Bankata villager Karma Singh believed that his family members falling regularly ill were because a particular widow was practicing black magic against his family. “This happened because of a lack of education. He thought witches and heretics were responsible for the illness in his family whereas the simple panacea was to get the suffering members of his family treated by a doctor. Unfortunately such practices and beliefs still prevail and the police and students have taken up cudgels against such vile faiths in what unfortunately is called modern times,” observed a deeply concerned Baharagora police station OC Chandrashekhar Kumar.

Similar instances of simple, harmless women being put to the social sword have been rampant in not only Baharagora but also in Ghatshila and other Blocks of East Singhbhum District, West Singhbhum, Saraikela- Kharsawan, in fact, in the entire Kolhan belt. Believing these helpless women as practitioners of black magic or voodoo; they have been brutally murdered by an uneducated, uncivilized society. Many a time there have been mass uprisings in protest against this witch hunt practice.  There is a group in Saraikela-Kharsawan district that takes up the cause against witch hunting from time to time but in spite of all good intents, the unfortunate prevalence can only be contained by the sternest of government measures.

It may be worth mentioning here that a social activist of East Singhbhum, Premchand had started a massive movement against the evil social belief of killing women on the grounds of being witches. The effect of his agitation was such that the then Bihar government had passed a law against witch hunting. Many other state governments had followed suit but in spite of it all, women are still being killed in the name of witches.

A new form of revolution against the evil practice of witch hunting is taking roots in Baharagora. The police and students of Baharagora must be lauded for this much needed eye opener. The fire raised by them could erupt across society to ensure that women get their due respect.

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