The recent killings of two women in Kerala have sparked a debate about the prevalence and power of superstitious beliefs in society.
- As per the 2021 report of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), six deaths were linked to human sacrifices, while witchcraft was the motive for 68 killings.
- The maximum number of witchcraft cases were reported from Chhattisgarh (20), followed by Madhya Pradesh (18) and Telangana (11).
- In 2020, India saw 88 deaths due to witchcraft and 11 died as part of ‘human sacrifices’, the NCRB report states.
- In India, there is no central law that exclusively deals with crimes related to witchcraft, superstition, or occult-inspired activities.
- In 2016, Prevention of Witch-Hunting Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha, but it wasn’t passed.
- The draft provisions included punishment for accusing or identifying a woman as a witch, use of criminal force against a woman, or torture or humiliation on the pretext of performing witchcraft.
- Section 302 (punishment for murder) of IPC (Indian Penal Code) takes cognisance of human sacrifice, but only after the murder is committed, likewise, Section 295A works to discourage such practices.
- Article 51A (h) of the Indian Constitution makes it a fundamental duty for Indian citizens to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform.
- Other provisions under the Drugs and Magic Remedies Act, 1954 also aim to tackle the debilitating impact of various superstitious activities prevalent in India.