The usual buzz has gone missing at Sambamurthy Nagar with residents spending anxious moments in the wake of black magic rumours stalking these dingy lanes near old Gandhi Hospital mortuary in Secunderabad for the last one week.
Panic gripped the locality after residents found vermillion, lemon and burnt sticks in front of a few houses on Saturday last.
At the same time, health problems among some occupants followed by sudden death of a GHMC employee Yadagiri in the locality made residents jittery amid their belief that this was because of black magic.
Even as the residents tried to trace those involved in such practice, the visit of an astrologer to the house of a vegetable vendor B. Narsing Rao in the locality raised suspicion that the vendor was ‘practicing' witchcraft.
Locals descended at Rao's house, caught the astrologer and attacked him leading to tension in Sambamurthy Nagar and its surrounding areas.
They checked his handbag and found Rudraksha beads, talisman, shrubs and other material. The astrologer along with the seized material was handed over to police.
While residents alleged that Rao was performing sorcery with the help of astrologer to settle scores with his opponents, he maintained that the astrologer Prasad came to his house from Vemulawada in Karimnagar district to finalise the ‘muhurat' to start a new business.
He told the police that it was a plan hatched by his rival K.M. Lingam to defame him and added, “Lingam started a malicious campaign against me saying that 15-year-old Mukesh in the locality developed health problems after I performed black magic on him. He charged me with sprinkling vermilion and placing lemons in front of some houses.”
Police, however, advised residents not to believe in such superstitions. “Stern action will be initiated against those trying to spread or involve in such practices,” Market Sub-Inspector B. Upender Rao warned. A police picket was also posted in the area to prevent any untoward incident.
Atheists said some people were resorting to these methods to settle scores against their rivals. “There is no black magic and we can prove it with live demonstrations,” Jana Vignana Vedika Convenor (Science and Technology) P. Ramesh said.