By Maya Palit
The abuse and killing of people accused of practising witchcraft or being possessed has reached grisly heights this month.
A video shot in Rajasthan that is doing the rounds on social media shows a doctor slapping a woman whose family complained that she needed exorcising from evil spirits. He’s been suspended from the district hospital since.
Just this morning, The Times of India reported that two women from a Dalit family were apparently sexually assaulted and a 71-year-old father were beaten up in Pataudi, Haryana. The six people who beat them up were certain that the Dalit family sneaked into their yard, plucked limes from their plants, and cursed them with spells.
And last week, we heard about a horrific incident where two men in Bihar abducted their mother and forced her to consume shit. They did this after visiting an exorcist because their mother had been ill for a while, and his instructions were to get her to ‘drink human excreta’ and that would cure her from being mixed up in witchcraft. In Chattisgarh, they weren’t concerned about a cure: earlier in June, two women were viciously attacked because a mob believed they were wrapped up in black magic and was convinced that they had caused the deaths of members in their families. One was stripped and had chilli powder inserted into her genitals, the other was beaten to death and then set on fire.
We’ve talked before about the silence around these ferocious witch-hunts. But while we wait for the revised Bill (Karnataka Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifices and other Inhuman Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Bill) banning black magic to be introduced into state legislature at the end of the year, reviving the discussion about the high number of attacks on people branded as witches is more urgent than ever.