Superstitious practices is not considered a crime in Karnataka.

Limits of law Ktaka godman who forced girl to eat dung cant be arrested say cops
news Superstition Sunday, June 25, 2017 - 14:03

The video of an 18-year-old girl from Latur, Maharashtra, being forced to eat cow dung to “cure her of epilepsy” had surfaced in the media last week.

On June 13, the Maharashtra police had arrested the family members of the girl. Prabhakar Kesale, Pandit Kore, Gangadhar Shewale, Dagdu Shewale and one woman from Dhangarwadi village in Chakur area of Latur were held.

Up on questioning, it was revealed that a “godman” from Karnataka’s Bidar district – Karappa Mungale – had advised the family members to make the girl eat cow dung to cure her of epilepsy and ward off other troubles from the lives of the family members.

The Maharashtra Police are now unable to arrest Karappa, despite knowing his whereabouts. This is because superstitious practices involving the performance of acts such as making people eat cow dung is not considered a crime in Karnataka.

“Despite knowing his whereabouts, we cannot do much and neither can we arrest him because he is protected by the law, or the lack of one. The Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman Evils and Aghori Practice and Black Magic Act, 2013 is applicable only within the jurisdiction of Maharashtra and Karappa's role in the act is not considered a crime in Karnataka. Hence, Karappa cannot be arrested under the anti-superstition act of Maharashtra,” Vikas Naik, Deputy Superintendent of Police, from Chakur in Maharashtra’s Latur district told TNM.

Officer Naik said that according to the act, the accused’s place of origin must be Maharashtra for him to be arrested.

“In this particular case, the victims were taken by their family members to Bidar. Karappa is from Bidar and publicised superstitious beliefs it in this village in Latur, which is illegal according to the law. But the so-called godman cannot be arrested as he is not from Maharashtra,” Naik added.

The video, which had surfaced in the media, shows a woman from Latur being held down by a group of people, forced to consume cow dung and being whipped when she choked on it.

Upon interrogation of the family members, it was revealed that the girl, a first year BA student, suffered from perennial stomach ache.

The family members suspected that she was a victim of some black magic, and took her to Karappa on June 4.

Another woman from the same village, who suffered from epilepsy, also accompanied her to visit Karappa.

“The family members of the two women believed that they were victims of black magic, which is why they believed these women were acting strange and picking fights with the male family members. They never bothered to take them to the hospital,” the DSP added.

The police have registered a case against the family members under Indian Penal Code sections 500 (Punishment for defamation), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 506 (criminal intimidation), Information Technology Act section 67 (publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form) and Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman Evils and Aghori Practice and Black Magic Act, 2013 section 3 (Aghori practices).

No case has been registered against the ‘godman’ as he had reportedly not participated in the act and had only advised the girl’s family members.

Black magic rampant in Hyderabad-K’taka belt

According to Narendra Nayak, President of the Indian Rationalist Association, belief in black magic is rampant in the Hyderabad-Karnataka belt, especially in Bidar, Raichur, Gulbarga, Ballari and Koppala.

“When I had toured these regions, most of the people in the villages attribute any inconvenience in their lives to black magic. When I had visited a village in Bidar, an incident of rape, hair shaving, assault and nude parading of a nurse in the village had been reported. The villagers had attributed this “punishment” to the women as they believed she was a witch. It was later learnt that she had repeatedly rejected the advances of the village elders who wanted to extract revenge,” he added.

From cause for family misunderstandings to health issues, people in these remote villages of Hyderabad-Karnataka belt are extremely superstitious, he added.

“In Khajuri village in Gulbarga, a little girl was kidnapped, flayed and beheaded by some villagers who were looking for treasure. I have seen people blame black magic for their health problems and the presence of quacks in these areas is rampant. People go to them before doctors,” Nayak said.

The rationalist thinker also said that the Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman Evils and Aghori Practice and Black Magic Bill has been put on the backburner in Karnataka after severe opposition from various religious organisations.

“The politicians do not want to upset their vote bank and hence the bill has been sent to cold storage,” Nayak said.

 The state government had proposed the Karnataka Prevention of Superstitious Activities Bill in 2013, right after the Congress came to power in the state. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had promised to put an end to such practices during his election campaign.

Barring Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister TB Jayachandra, no other member of the cabinet supported the bill when it appeared for clearance in July 2016.
In February this year, it was decided that the bill would be put on hold until the elections are over as many MLAs and even Ministers do not want to offend residents of their constituencies by passing it. They fear that it would hurt their sentiments. There were 23 practices listed in the original bill and barring human sacrifice, most of them have been scrapped in the revised bill.