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Anti-superstition bill does not curb religious freedom: writer

Special Correspondent
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‘The bill is neither against wearing rudraksha mala nor touching the feet of elders’

Kannada writer Aravind Malagatti speaking at a programme on ‘Why do we need a law against superstition’ in Mysore on Tuesday.— PHOTO: M.A. SRIRAM
Kannada writer Aravind Malagatti speaking at a programme on ‘Why do we need a law against superstition’ in Mysore on Tuesday.— PHOTO: M.A. SRIRAM

Writer Aravind Malagatti, on Tuesday, said the proposed anti-superstition bill aims to regulate those who exploit people in the name of superstitious practices and provide justice to victims.

Prof. Malagatti, who was part of the team that drafted the bill for the State government, said the Karnataka Prevention of Superstitious Practices Bill 2013 would facilitate setting up of an authority on anti-superstition, which will be headed by a retired judge.

Each district will have a vigilance committee to attend to complaints from victims of superstitious practices.

“We have also recommended for collecting funds to financially aid the victims,” he said.

Speaking after inaugurating a programme on ‘Why do we need a law against superstition’ organised by the Karnataka Backward Classes Awareness Forum, in association with various organisations here, Prof. Malagatti said it would be a “revolutionary step” if a legislation is enacted against superstition.

“Certain superstitious practices are indeed a threat to democracy, and therefore there is an urgent need to frame law banning these practices,” he said.

The writer expressed surprise over the opposition to the draft bill and accused some vested interests of instigating people against the move by misrepresenting facts.

“The draft bill is neither against wearing rudraksha mala nor touching the feet of elders. It is not against deity worship. Some superstitious practices, which are a threat to community, have been recommended for ban. The beliefs of people are not being questioned in the bill,” he clarified. He said the bill does not prohibit religious freedom and fundamental rights of people.

“There are superstitious beliefs and practices in all communities. The draft bill tries to bring those who promote superstitious practices under its purview and recommend punishment.”

He said superstitious practices such as black magic, okuli and bettale seve, among others, have been recommended for a ban in the draft bill.

He, however, said not all practices were bad. “Some have scientific reasons,” he said.

K. Arkesh, retired Inspector-General of Police, and V.S. Sridhar, assistant director, Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy at National Law School of India University, spoke on the subject.

Professor in political science, University of Mysore, Muzaffar Assadi, presided and forum president K.S. Shivaram welcomed the gathering.

Writer G. Ramakrishna headed the 20-member team that drafted the bill.

Following the murder of renowned rationalist Narendra Dabholkar, Maharashtra brought out an ordinance enforcing anti-superstition measures. On the same lines, the Karnataka government had given the responsibility of preparing the draft bill to the National Law School of India University in Bangalore.

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