Monday, April 18, 2011

Modern Witch-Hunts: India

So as you know this month I have been devoting my blog posts to talking about witch-hunts and trials throughout the world. Up until this point we have been discussing all the ones in the past. As you remember they were full of kids being tortured and killed, so called witches being blamed for the most ludicrous things and in some villages the entire women population wiped out. The saddest thing out of all of this? It isn’t something that was just that is just of the past.

One thing though that is perhaps even more sad through this is that people aren’t talking about what is going on. I mentioned this is my first post, but people just don’t get it. Witch-hunts, trials and persecution aren’t things limited to Salem or Medieval Europe as many people think. Another thing sad about this? There is hardly any press on this issue. Upon looking through articles in major magazines, newspapers and journals there are only a handful of articles that actually mention the hunts and out of those only a few that actually paint it in the light that it should be in.

While looking through these articles I found one written in 2006 in the New York Times that caught my attention the most. The thing that caught my attention was the first line of the article: “Unidentified attackers hacked to death five villagers accused of practicing witchcraft in northeastern India, officials said Tuesday” (Conroy 2006). That line is enough to make anyone stop and question what would possess this to go on. This was perhaps the only article I found that showed the actual brutality that has been going on in this area of India, for this is not the first time.

The article then goes on to talk about the past and how this is not an isolated event. These deaths are all people that have been killed over practicing sorcery in a remote part of the Assam state. At least nine in the past two weeks were killed in this area where many indigenous tribes practice witchcraft. This particular event took place in August of 2006 in the district of Kokrajhar; around 156 miles west of Gauhati, the state capital, said Mrinal Talukdar, a senior police official. Talukdar describes the event: “six men armed with machetes stormed a house... and hacked three members of a family to death late Sunday accusing them of practicing sorcery” (Conroy 2006).

Anyone that doesn’t feel horribly sick at the thought of that should really evaluate themselves. Yet these are the kind of events that are constantly being pushed under the rug or barely mentioned especially in our Western thinking society. This article though is not void of the western bias. It has a lot of the words like “alleged” and “believed” and “suspected” and not once does it ever come out and say that these people were actually witches.

Other than that the article does a great job at pointing out these horrid events that took place in these villages in August of 2006. He even brings up the ludicrous notions that these witches were killed “[when] suspicions stemmed from the recent deaths of two people in Nandipur from an unknown ailment” (Conroy 2006). So what do we see again? Sickness is being blamed on witchcraft, something that has been going on since the dawn of time.

One thing though that really stuck out was that the Indian government is actually planning on doing something to stop this which is something that we don’t see in a lot of areas in the world. "I am planning to tackle the menace by imposing a collective fine on an entire area where people accused of practicing witchcraft are hunted and killed," said the Baska district magistrate, Anwaruddin Choudhury (Conroy 2006).

Conroy then ends the article with a summary of what has happened in the past 5 years and how more than 150 people have been killed in the northeast after being accused of practicing witchcraft or sorcery (Conroy 2006). So we can see from this article that these things are still going on in the modern world. The notions of witchcraft that were alive and well back in the ancient world have kept strong and have shown themselves all around the modern world. We need more articles like this one that expose what is going on out there and that is what I am hoping to do with these blog posts. That is what the 30 Days of Advocacy against Witch-Hunts is hoping to do.


Conroy, Scott. Modern-Day Witch Hunt in Remote India. GAUHATI, India, Aug. 22, 2006


Lilac Wolf (Angie or Angela) said...

I am so grateful that you are still going on this topic. And what you said about not finding articles is one thing that really stalled my own progression...I couldn't find anything!

thank you for moving forward!

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