The rising cases of death in rural areas due to black magic has now forced the state to crack its whip. It has decided to rope in Asha health workers, appointed by the state health department, to keep an eye on black magicians.
As per the health department, the rural population has been found to be increasingly dependent on black magicians for medical advice, especially in cases of dog, snake, or scorpion bite.
The health workers will be assigned with collecting details of cases involving black magicians and provide the same to the police, who will then take the required action against them. If charges are proved with evidence, a black magician can be arrested under the Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act, 2013.
A senior department official said, “We will soon inform all Asha health workers to collect details of cases in which people didn’t take proper treatment after advice from black magicians.”
There are 60,000 Asha health workers who have worked in rural areas across the state. Their basic job is to help and guide the sick in their respective village. They also create awareness among people about the availability of health centres for the ill. Also, they focus more on pregnant women so that they get a proper delivery at a health centre and their children get vaccinated.
The health department has received complaints about pregnant women dying for want of treatment as they visit black magicians.
Senior surgeon and health activist Dr Arun Bal welcomed the move and said, “It’s a known fact that many (sick) people die because of black magicians who stop innocent villagers from taking proper medical treatment. Children who have pneumonia and hepatitis and women who had chronic illness are the main targets.”
What the law says
As per the Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act, 2013, culprit can be jailed for a minimum of six months and a maximum of seven years and can be fined anywhere between Rs5,000 and Rs50,000