Where superstition, black magic thrive

RAIPUR, APRIL 29. Illiteracy and social backwardness are believed to be the main factors behind high incidence of human sacrifice and prevalence of black magic in Chhatisgarh.

The highest number of incidents is, perhaps, reported from the State with the recent one being the killing of a young boy in Surajpur village last week. The `sacrifice' came close on the heels of a similar killing reported from a village in Jammu.

Besides human sacrifice and black magic, the rural areas of the region abound in `tohni' or witch where women are beaten up or killed mercilessly after being declared `witches.'

According to Dr. Dinesh Mishra, who runs the Andha Shradha Nirmulan Samiti - an organisation working for creating awareness against these superstition - besides illiteracy, there is a social factor behind these practices.

Putting across his point, he says declaring a woman `tohni' is often done with a vested interest. A woman is driven away from the house or village to grab her property or to pressurise her to do something she is not willing to do. Children are `sacrificed' to please the Gods to fulfil the wishes of the accused, he claims.

Dr. Mishra, an eye specialist by profession, who has been working in the field for the past several years, says that innocent villagers are tricked by self-proclaimed `babas' by showing their supernatural powers which are nothing but scientific tricks that can be done by any individual.

The incidents of human sacrifice and tongue sacrifices increase during March and April and in October and November in the festival season since people believe in making generous offerings to the Gods so that they can be relieved of their problems.

``However, awareness is gradually increasing and villagers themselves inform our organisation whenever there is an incident of this nature,'' he says.

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