"If you switch on regional news channels, you will see astrology shows everyday. People par class, caste and religion are conditioned to believe in superstitions," says Dr. Vasundhara Bhupathi. A volunteer with the health department, Vasundhara Bhupathi was part of a protest organised by the Karnataka Jnana Vijnana Samithi(KJVS) in Bengaluru on Friday for an anti-superstition bill in the state.
Few months ago a 10-year-old child was kidnapped in Haveri district, her fingers cut and blood fed to the fire altar during a pooja for "restoring peace" at a house, says Dr. Vasundhara Bhupathi.
"The girl died in a day and no case was filed because there is no law that punishes these offenses," she added.
There are many incidents in Chamrajnagar district and many districts in north Karnataka like Koppal, Bidar, Kalaburgi and Raichur, however only a few are reported in the media.
"Belief in superstitions can affect anybody's progress, that is the same case with the nation too. We are not questioning religion. But only practices that can physically injure or even be fatal for people," said Surendra Rao, President of Samudaya Sanghatane.
"There are two drafts of the anti-superstition bill, one from Karnataka law school and another from National Law School. We have collected drafts of Kerala and Maharashtra govt bills. A review committee is studying whether to include any practice in the name of religion that can physically cause harm to the family or people around," said Shivakumar, president of Manava Bhandutva Vedike.
On November 16, KVJS is planning a state-level rally after which they would submit a memorandum to Chief Minister Siddharamaiah.
"We are also pushing for this bill because it is a tribute to MM Kalburgi who was killed two months ago," said Dr. Vasundhara Bhupathi.