Many believe that this one was long time coming! The government of Madhya Pradesh in India passed a law recently, outlawing any and every kind of activity related to black magic and superstitious beliefs. This includes performing miracles, summoning ghosts and performing black magic etc.
The law was passed just days after popular activist Dr. NarendraDabholkar who was a staunch supporter and head of the Committee for the Eradication of Blind Faith, was assassinated. The committee that Dr. Dabholkar headed has over 180 branches located across the state, and has been responsible for successfully exposing several fake Hindu preachers and godmen who claim to perform black magic spells and miracle.
The law in question has specifically outlawed a total of 12 practices that could earn an individual anywhere between 7 months and 7 years in jail. These include starving, beating and stripping women branded as witches, getting individuals bitten by dogs, snakes or scorpions, changing the sex of the unborn baby by inserting fingers into the womb and having sex with women on the pretext of increasing fertility etc.
Two of these 12 clauses are also related to ghosts. These include threats to invite ghosts upon one’s body and use of sexual or violent practices (like eating stool, drinking urine, being bound by a rope etc.) for the purpose of getting rid of a ghost from an individual’s body.
The new law has been met with both approval and harsh criticism from different groups. While rationalists believe that the law would put to an end, the antics of several fake preachers in the state, many Hindus believe that the law could potentially violate their personal faith and religious freedom.
Many Hindu activists have in fact pointed out that the important scriptures like the Atharva Veda (which shows different ways to get rid of ghosts from one’s body) would cease to exist if the common man is forced to stop believing in ghosts altogether. And with the law not being clear on the specific guidelines on what is acceptable and what is not, activists believe that passing it would be futile.
Another particular clause that has been met by disapproval by the Hindus is related to performing miracles. Hindu activists believe that if the miracles performed by Sufi saints, Mother Teresa and even magicians in local shows can be accepted, then these miracles would have to be accepted as well.
The acting president of the Committee for the Eradication of Blind Faith, AvinashPatil, has pointed out that the law would not target all preachers, but only private faith. The law does not mention any particular religion, and has been passed only to prevent certain godmen, tantriks and seers from robbing people blinded by faith.