Posted September 13, 2013 17:38:33Photo: Mourners pay their respects over the casket of anti-superstition and black magic campaigner Narendra Dabholkar, who was killed by gunmen, in Pune on August 20, 2013. (Photo: AFP )
The rise of black magic in India has led to calls for laws to protect innocent people being exploited by charlatans offering magical cures.
It follows the killing of anti-black magic campaigner, Narendra Dabholkar who was gunned down by unknown assailants in Pune, in the state of Maharashtra last month.
His crime - unmasking fraudulent God men and sorcerers who dupe the vulnerable using dodgy practices.
The high-profile sceptic's death led to angry protests forcing the state government to rush through emergency legislation that makes it an offence to exploit people by offering rituals, charms and magical cures, and to practice black magic.
But Mr Dabholkar's death has raised calls for comprehensive legislation across the country that still straddles between age-old mysticism and modernity.Audio: Rise of black magic in India sparks call for action (ABC News)
Indian Rationalist Association president Sanal Edamaraku told Radio Australia's Asia-Pacific there is a tradition of gurus and spiritualism in India, but also a rise in charlatans who prey on the gullible.
"It has become a market place of charlatans. And we have a whole lot of gurus, tantriks and holy men all around the country… thousands in numbers who go around from place to place working on the gullibility of the common man," he said.
Mr Edamaraku faces blasphemy charges after he debunked a supposed miracle involving a dripping crucifix at a Catholic Church in Mumbai.
He is currently staying in Europe as he faces arrest without the guarantee of bail back home.
Mr Edamaraku questions the motives of some so-called gurus.
"Most of these people have some criminal or doubtful background. One fine day he wears a saffron robe and there is no check and balance to catch these people and the common man accepts it."
The police helps those who practice black magic and voodoo. They want to fleece gullible people. I don't.Occultist Manik Baba
Occultist Manik Baba, 70, has a faithful following of devotees and maintains he has helped hundreds in the last 20 years of his practice.
The Delhi occultist tells clients what the future holds and provides solutions for customers facing difficult times.
Mr Baba says not all holy men are charlatans and makes a distinction between black and white magic.
"The police helps those who practice black magic and voodoo. They want to fleece gullible people. I don't," he said.
"Everyone wants to make a quick buck. Go to holy places like (Hindu holy pilgrimage city) Rishikesh.. see the fraudulent people operate."
Call for action
Belief in the power of sorcery is alive and well in many parts of India.
In rural areas practices such as chanting to cure snake bites, holding elaborate ceremonies to lift a curse and curing diseases with black magic continue.
Faith healers who fail to do what is promised can face the ire of local communities, be stoned to death and at times even burnt in front of villagers.
Clinical hypnotherapist Madhu Kotiya says action is needed.
"This practice will continue till the time people have jealously for others. When people want to harm, they will find ways," she said.
"Right now we don't have any legal action against these people and that is why they are safe. There should be a law, only then can it be stopped."
Source : http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-09-13/an3a-rise-of-black-magic-in-india-sparks-call-for-regulation/4956914740