#Khabarlive will attempt to investigate how superstition against women is still pervasive in outlying areas of the Telugu states in this piece of insight.

Nowadays, superstitions rule daily life and improve it through antiquated, unscientific methods. There is no legal protection for these superstitions in India. In Telugu States, this issue has taken on a threat-like status.

Currently, there is no law prohibiting superstitious behaviours, which makes it impossible to account for crimes like human sacrifice. Aside from this, a number of other habits cause trouble in life without purpose or benefit.

Andhra Pradesh had recently been horrified by the tragic case of human sacrifice. Naturally, national media outlets covered the sensational murder of two young women, Sai Divya and Alekya, by their own parents who were mistaken in thinking they could raise the dead.

Although there have been several technological triumphs in our country, people’s obsession with meaningless superstitions still exists. Women are more often than not the victims of such superstitions. In a recent case, 3 women were beaten to death in Gopulapuram village near Prakasham in Andhra Pradesh and remote Adilabad villages in Telangana, as they were accused of being ‘witches’. The villagers suspected that the women residing in the village were ‘mayavi serpents’. This refers to the myth of a serpent that lives in the guise of a woman during the day and becomes a serpent at night. 

Cases of killing by calling them witches are especially seen in tribal areas. This is still a major problem in rural areas. There are different reasons as to why a particular woman may be accused of being a witch such as: 

  • Jealousy and any personal self-interest of someone
  • Property dispute or land grab conspiracy
  • To be healed by the tantric-exorcist
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Although there are awareness programs in Telugu States for this issue, there is still a stronger belief in ‘tantriks’ and supernatural healers over laws and officials.

Many people think these incidents are very rare and that they don’t happen anymore. However, the data speaks a different story. However, if you go by the National Crime Records Bureau’s data – 2021, Sai Divya and Alekya’s deaths were not human sacrifices, but routine murders. In fact, only 5 human sacrifices have happened across India in 2021,, according to NCRB. Under the Child/Human Sacrifice column of the data, Andhra Pradesh has zero cases. Cases are not being accounted for due to the absence of a law against superstitious practices.

A senior official who investigated the Sai Divya-Alekya murders said, “We did not classify it as a case of human sacrifice because there is no such provision. Ultimately it is a case of murder, whatever the motive could be. So we had booked the case under section 302 of Indian Penal Code.” The officer disclosed that they filed a chargesheet of the case and are awaiting trial.

The NRCB data follows a similar pattern, in 2020 and 2019, no human sacrifice was recorded for Andhra Pradesh. Karnataka had passed an anti-superstition law in 2019. In the wake of the recent case of human sacrifice in Kerala, the CPI(M) in Kerala has declared that it plans to enact a legislation to curb the practice of black magic and sorcery. 

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In 2018, a severed head of a baby was found on the roof of a building in Uppal, Hyderabad. The crime coincided with the lunar eclipse. Following investigation, police arrested the couple Rajasekhar and Srilatha. According to police, the couple had performed a black magic ritual and sacrificed the baby as part of the ritual, to “cure” Srilatha’s chronic illness.  As per the NCRB data, Telangana did not report any incident of human sacrifice in 2018, 2019 and 2020. One case of human sacrifice was reported in 2021.

But these crimes do not get recorded under the relevant categories, because both the states do not have a law against superstition and black magic. “If murder as a result of dowry is being recorded in a separate category, similarly deaths as a result of superstition should be recognised,” points out rationalist Babu Gogineni of Science for Society and of Indian Humanists.

Another rationalist, TV Rao from Jana Vignana Vedika said that besides recording the deaths under the relevant categories of superstition, the government should enact a law to criminalise black magic.

“The necessity to fight the evils of superstition should come from the government. What is stopping the government of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh from bringing a law to curtail this practice? The government should take these initiatives that would protect people. Isn’t that their duty?” Rao questioned. In 2015, rationalists had drafted a Bill against superstion– The Andhra Pradesh Prevention of Superstitious Practices Bill– but the government did not consider it. 

At least eight states in India have enacted laws against witchcraft and superstition.

These states are Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Assam, Maharashtra and Karnataka. “Only when you have strict laws in place and politicians leading the fight can we prevent deaths caused by superstition,” said TV Rao.

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While human sacrifice happens in most states, the most number of people are killed in India on the suspicion that they are witches or sorcerers. Rationalists say that such violence should also be brought under the ambit of such a law. 

“In this nation, being accused of using black magic carries the death penalty. A single such charge is sufficient for the crowd to murder the target. Therefore, a law should be introduced to hold government officials liable for such killings, including the Sarpanches, Mandal Revenue Officers, and police officers, according to Gogineni.

In 2018, a man was lynched to death in Telangana’s Nalgonda district on the grounds that he was practising black magic, and Gogineni recalled the horrific incident, saying, “The police have cultural teams who campaign against superstition, but it is the government which has to work against it efficiently.” #KhabarLive #hydnews #hydnews