Hindustan Times (Delhi)
FIGHTING EVIL CUSTOMS
According to the community’s beliefs, a woman deemed a dakan can cast an evil eye, kill anyone by just looking at them, and destroy things by praising them.
Women fighting against the custom told the police it is prevalent in nine villages of Rajgarh — Pipliya Rasoda, Amlar, Bhilwadia, Karanwas, Padana, Magarana, Bhayana, Sandawta and Kodia Jarkar. In Shajapur, they identified Kadwala, Laharkheda and Uchod villages.
Chanda Patidar, 52, of Bhayana, said, “My great-grandmother was admiring a calf in a nearby shed. The calf’s owner saw this. The calf died two days later and villagers decided my great-grandmother was a dakan. I know how I inherited my dakan tag, but there are many who don’t.”
According to the National Crime Records Bureau, after Jharkhand and Odisha, MP registered the third highest number of murders of women accused of indulging in witchcraft in 2015 and 2016. In 2015, the number of women murdered in MP on suspicion of practising witchcraft was 20; it was 19 in 2016.
There is no specific national-level legislation that penalises witch-hunting. Different Indian Penal Code sections related to murder, attempt to murder, causing hurt, rape, and outraging a woman’s modesty are among those invoked in such cases. Rajasthan, Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha are among states with laws to deal with the problem of witch-hunting. The Prevention of Witch-hunting Bill, 2016 was introduced (as private member bill) by BJP MP from Saharanpur, Raghav Lakhanpal, and is pending. Sarika Sinha, in-charge of the government-aided one-stop crises centre for women in Bhopal, said, “We are demanding a separate law because many harassed women have been driven to commit suicide. There is an urgent need to rectify this.”