My village which was once confluence of peace, bliss and natural beauty has given way to some bad practices. Well, all Indian villages are fast losing their rustic appeal, being in race to imbibe city culture. However, my village apart from being in grip of ills triggered by conumerism has also given way to witchcraft. Well, my village named Kanaura is located on banks of river Ganges. It falls under Mirzapur district. Don’t be surprised to hear that. Even in our times a great number of people are under the influence of unhealthy and unscientific pattern of thought.
Anyway, all that started when one of the infamous families in my village occupied a temple premises situated on the banks of river Ganges. They entered in normal rituals there so nobody took note of their presence there. However, in due course of time, the same spot developed into a place to practice witchcraft. People now did take note of the unwanted activities going there but they were reluctant to be head on with that family. Partly because of fear that they can suffer backlash but mainly because villagers felt that they can to be harassed by the evil spirits. At present, their hit drama is running smoothly with participants from distant villages. However, that has disturbed the peace and bliss which once existed in my village. Now the village is full of sea of people involved in strange nautanki (drama) going on unabated.
This family proclaims to cure the illness of mind via the magical remedies especially during the Navratri season. They are cheating and misrepresenting, innocent persons and in the process playing with health of general public. The people whom they claim to heal are virtually suffering from serious psychological disorder in actuality really need a good psychiatric and not a so-called healing session conducted by self proclaimed healer of mind who treats these disorders as “bhoot prêt badha” (problem caused by evil spirits).
I came to witness the process. It’s unfortunate that due to lack of camera I just couldn’t capture the scenes. However, I will in words try to make my readers construct a mental image of that ceremony. During my conversations with some of the people supposedly under the influence of evil spirits it became quite clear to me that these people need a good psychiatric instead of a so-called faith healing. See what one of the participants told me. ” I cannot concentrate on my studies. Of late, I remain bit depressed.”
On learning that, I asked then why don’t you pay visit to a good doctor? The person failed to give me any satisfactory response other than stating that that he was here on the command of his parents !! One special feature of this whole drama is that female participants always outnumber the male participants. It’s because they are more swayed by stupid beliefs. They are more susceptible to negative emotional currents.
The participants are asked to sit in several rows. The ladies are asked to undo their plaited hairs. That is done so that when they swing their head in circular way, the effect produced make the drama attain more popularity for the onlookers-the possible clients. The hairs when fall over their faces produce a conductive environment to sensationalize the drama !! That’s the reason why this family is conducting the show openly. Mainly to advertise and prepare more clients. After having done that the head representative of the drama acting as God-man, orchestrated quite well, asks the participants now swinging their heads slowly to heed to his directions. As he continue asking his questions, the swinging of the head becomes faster.
I am smiling because it makes me remember that after end of one such drama some of the village children replicated the whole drama in a terrific way at the same spot much to the discomfort of so-called God-man. One of the little kids in that drama when asked where his evil spirit came from said : ”I am my father’s spirit who has just arrived from home since the spirit was denied a pack of biscuit and now will only be pleased if offered several pack of biscuits.”
Coming back to the actual drama the God-man then note downs the details of the evil spirit, the reasons why it possessed the particular person and demands of the evil spirit. This process of noting down the details of the evil spirit takes amidst loud cries of women participants who have by now given to maddening gestures crying and laughing alternative. It’s not the drama for chicken-hearted as in dark nights the scenario at an isolated spot gives rise to strange sensations. Finally the drama ends when several of the evil spirits have confessed. The families of the participants are given certain instructions with a pack of “bhabhoot” (holy ash). They are asked to remain in contact and keep informing the representatives about the progress. The so-called God-man also assures them that the evil spirit has now left the body of the affected person and so the said person will now get relief in some days. The God-man after receiving the money and articles brought by the families of the participants leaves the spot. Here the show ends to give way to another session of drama.
Coming to the legal aspect, this is simply a case of fraudulent representation and offence of cheating under the ambit of section 420.The Supreme Court in Shri Bhagwan Samardha v. State of Andhra Pradesh, AIR 1999 SC 2332, case has stated that “when somebody represents himself to offer prayers to God for healing the sick and thereby induces another person to give him money or any other article and does not get a result, it is ‘fraudulent representation’ and the Court can in such situations presume that the offence of cheating under the ambit of section 420 has been committed leaving the accused to rebut the presumption”
These sort of unhealthy and dangerous practices are clear violation of directives issues by the Supreme Court in D.K. Joshi v. State of U. P. ,2000 (5) SCC 80, in which the Supreme Court “apprised the Secretary Medical Health U.P. of the problem of unauthorised medical practice in the State.” I also wish to inform the District Magistrate that by highlighting the same judgment the Allahabad High court passed a similar verdict in Charan Singh And Ors. Etc. vs State Of U.P. And Ors.that took note of “thousands of unauthorised persons playing with the health of the population of the State”. The Supreme Court in its order gave many directions of which I am highlighting the two important directions:
i) All District Magistrates and the Chief Medical Officers of the State shall be directed to identify, within a time-limit to be fixed by the Secretary, all unqualified/unregistered medical practitioners and to initiate legal actions against these persons immediately;
ii ) Direct all the District Magistrates and the Chief Medical Officers to monitor all legal proceedings initiated against such persons.
There is no specific legal clause/legal provisions to curb the menace of people involved in offering magical remedies or magical cure but the government of India to curb the growth of such dangerous practices in Indian village takes action against them under Indian Penal Code, 1860 and also looks at other statutes such as Indian Medical Central Council Act, 1970, Indian Medical Council Act, 1954 etc. by treating them as “quackery”.
The Allahabad High Court in the above mentioned order makes it absolutely clear that not everybody can practise medicine by stating the “right to practice medicine is subject to reasonable restrictions under Article 19(6) of the Constitution of India” and “only those persons who hold valid and recognised degree and are registered under the existing legislations can be allowed to practice medicine in the State.”
These people are, in fact, practicing medicine. They claim to heal the psychological disorders, calling it as ‘bhoot prêt badha’, via stupid set of gestures at the village temple located on the banks of Ganges. I say so on the basis of judgement delivered by Apex Court. The Supreme Court in Electro Homoeopathic Practitioners Association Of India And Anr. vs A.P. Verma, Chief Secretary, Government Of U.P. And Ors. made it clear that “ anybody who is involved in activities aimed at curing the ailment of the human body can be no doubt that they claim to be practicing medicine”.
As per this definition these people are fit enough to be punished for” quackery” which is not permissible by law. The Supreme Court in this order criticizing “unscientific path of superstitions and empty rituals” and making way for “high standards of scientific and logical thinking” made it clear that “only those holding a certificate granted by the concerned statutory authority can practice medicine, whether it is modern medicine or ancient medicine” .
Referring to the Section 17(2) of the Indian Medicine Central Council Act, 1970 the Supreme Court made it clear that “no person other than the practitioner of India medicine who possess the recognised medical qualification, and is enrolled in the State Register or the Central Register of Indian Medicine can practice Indian medicine in the State or hold office as Vaid, Siddha, Hakim, etc.”
The healing sessions wherein the innocent people suffering from mental disorders come from distant places to participate in hope of getting cured are totally against the law. These innocent people in the first place should be at the clinic of a psychiatric. However, being illiterate and ignorant of the true nature of such illness they fall in the trap laid down by so-called mind healers.
I request the concerned authority via this article to please take immediate step to curb the growth of this unhealthy and dangerous practice. If remained uncontrolled, this dangerous practice will mushroom in every nook and corner of the village, leading to total breakdown of normalcy in the whole village and nearby area. The people playing with the health of the people needs to given strict punishment to restore normalcy in the Kanaura Village in the grip of witchcraft and quackery. There is urgent need to take strict measures against the people responsible for promoting unhealthy and illegal practices going on unabated at Kanaura village.
It’s, indeed, the need of the hour that country which has great hopes to be the next superpower first makes proper arrangement to make the villages beyond the ambit of witchcraft, superstitions and bogus alternative system of healing.