The Thiruvananthapuram police have booked a 47-year-old ‘occult practitioner’ for allegedly sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl under the garb of treating her with ‘black magic.’
The accused has been identified as Bineesh Sharma, a native of Kodungallur in Thrissur district. The accused and his wife had been staying in Sreekariyam in Thiruvananthapuram and had rented a room in Kanni Moolam in the city, where he was allegedly offering ‘black magic services’.
The police say that the parents of the 14-year-old, who is reportedly living with a learning disability, took her to the accused, who claims to be a ‘priest,’ on September 19. The accused allegedly promised to cure her and “rid the child of the evil spirit that has possessed her” through exorcism.
“The parents claim that Bineesh had asked them to stay outside while he sexually abused the victim inside his rented room in Kanni Moolam. They found out about the incident after she complained of pain in the stomach,” Sreekanth, SI of Thiruvananthapuram Medical College police station, told TNM.
Based on the parents’ police complaint, the Medical College police on December 4 registered a case against Bineesh. A medical examination that was conducted has confirmed that the minor was sexually assaulted.
Bineesh has been booked under Section 376(i)(n) (rape) of the Indian Penal Code as well as Section 4 (penetrative sexual assault) with 3(b) (using the child for pornographic purposes by directly participating in pornographic acts), Section 8 (touching private parts of child or forcing child to touch their private parts with sexual intent) read with Section 7 (sexual assault) and Section 10 (punishment for aggravated sexual assault read with Section 9 (aggravated sexual assault) of the POCSO Act.
The police are currently on the lookout for the accused, who is allegedly absconding.
“We have enquired in Kodungallur for more information on the background of the accused. However, most people in the neighbourhood are not aware of the identity of the accused,” SI Sreekanth added.
The police are yet to decide whether any action will be taken against the minor’s parents for approaching the accused to ‘cure’ the minor through exorcism and black magic.
“We still need to question the minor on the incident and clarify a few other concerns before we decide on taking action against the parents,” the SI added.
In July 2019, the Kerala Government drafted an anti-superstition bill to counter inhuman practices done under the name of black magic and sorcery. The draft bill titled — Prevention and Eradication of Inhuman Evil Practice and Black Magic, 2019 — prepared by the Kerala Law Reforms Commission prohibits exploitative practices and puts in place a law to control and eradicate inhuman evil practices that are propagated in the name of “supernatural, magical powers or evil spirits” commonly known as black magic.
Among the acts/practices found punishable under the bill include creating an impression that an external force beyond the apprehension of human senses has entered an individual’s body and creating panic among the public. Inflicting physical harm or forcing a person to perform sexual acts etc under the pretext of eradicating the ghost that had possessed the individual is also a crime as per the bill.
The bill was drafted in Kerala, which has seen several crimes related to occult practices and black magic in the recent years, after similar anti-superstition laws were passed in the states of Karnataka and Maharashtra.