Last year, the Assam Assembly had unanimously passed the Assam Witch Hunting (Prohibition, Prevention and Protection) Bill, 2015 making any offence under the Act as non-bailable, cognizable and non-compoundable to eliminate the superstition from society. The Act was prepared to rein in the rising incidents of witch-hunting cases across the State, following demand from cross-section of society. Even though this Act is being in place for more than a year now, it has not really curbed the ghastly killings because of witch hunting, human sacrifice and other superstitious practices. Every now and then, we come to know about a spine-chilling incident which makes us question our growth as a civilization.
Four year old girl being latest victim
Recently, a four year old girl fell victim to this menace at Ratanpur village in Sonari. The girl went missing from her residence on October 22 and following the recovery of her beheaded corpse, it is being suspected that it is a case of human sacrifice. As per the version of local villagers, Hanuman Bhumij, a local of the village had lost his mobile phone. He requested the village ‘bej’ Arifuddin Haque to help him find his phone. Haque, then reportedly told him that the practice of human sacrifice can get him back his phone. What followed was the shuddering ritual practiced by some blood thirsty maniac which took the life of a lively young girl.
Instances of human sacrifice are not uncommon in Assam. In June 2013, a person was killed and buried to satisfy a goddess in a remote tea garden in Lakhipur in Cachar district. In another macabre incident, a man killed his son at Guijjan village in Tinsukia to appease Devi Durga. Even last year, an occultist had sacrificed a five year old boy at a temple in Rangapara, Sonitpur.
What leads to these crimes?
We have often been perplexed to imagine what might lead someone to commit such a horrific act just in the name of god. Often, perpetrators in such crimes have admitted that a particular God or Goddess came to their dreams and asked them to practice human sacrifice for a greater good. In remote Jharkhand villages, farmers practice human sacrifice so that they have good harvest that season. The light of education is yet to penetrate the dark lanes of many of our villages. Even though mobile phones and internet has reached those villages thanks to our ever expanding network, a large section of our masses are still illiterate. Because being educated doesn’t mean just getting a degree, it also means broadening your outlook and attaining the power to think rationally. So, as long as that is happening, just passing an Act won’t change anything.