Karnataka had mourned the death of a two-year-old, who was found unconscious in a sugarcane farm and later succumbed at the hospital. It was suspected that the toddler was a victim of black magic. The incident was reported from Halyala village in Belagavi district in October 2021.
Two grandchildren of former MLA Hampaiah Nayak, who was elected twice from the Manvi constituency in Raichur district, were found dead in March 2021, triggering suspicion of witchcraft.
In 2018, 60 families belonging to a nomadic tribe in Chikkamagaluru district abandoned their homes where they lived for 15 years, fearing the prediction of an astrologer who told them that a black magic practitioner had cast a spell on them due to which they would soon start dying.
Karnataka — a state known as progressive — reports suspected cases of human sacrifice. Though the cases are reported rarely, the fear of black magic and witchcraft still haunts a large section of the people.
The Karnataka Prevention and Eradication of Inhuman Evil Practices and Black Magic Act, which is in force since January 2020, is effectively dealing with black magic, sorcery and other superstitious practices in the state, the authorities claim.
However, professor and activist Muzaffar Assadi told IANS that no law is effective as people try to see how it can be defeated, whether it is a law on GST, the Anti-Cow Slaughter Bill or Anti-Conversion Bill.
“The state must encourage rationalists who challenge those practising black magic or those who indulge in witchcraft in the name of religion. They should not be denounced or branded as anti-religious. Rationalists must be encouraged by the state government,” Assadi said.
“As far as Karnataka is concerned, by and large we don’t have obnoxious practices such as human sacrifice. However, though the law was enacted in this regard by the Congress government headed by Siddaramaiah, black magic practices are still prevalent. The Devadasi system is also practised in north Karnataka till date, despite the law,” he said.
“We need to have more rationalists who can challenge the black magic practitioners. There is a need to educate the civil society and children on black magic. No temple or mosque should be allowed to follow any such practice. There should be no provision to sacrifice goat, chicken or other animals,” Assadi added.
However, the law is catching up with the people who are involved in foul play and carry out the obnoxious rituals, he said.
Four persons in Karnataka were awarded life imprisonment for killing a woman in the name of black magic on Sept 15, 2022 by the Madikeri District Sessions’ Court.