Where does India live? Gandhi knows it well. He answered this question amid colonial cultural onslaught on our culture in Indian cities on all our behalf long ago. “ India lives in villages.” Answer is relevant even today. Only the question is out of date.
Are Indian villages alive? Perhaps that could be the possible query, a foreign tourist makes, when he visits an Indian village. He can quench his thirst with a bottled soft drink, where village women walk miles together to fetch a pitcher- full of drinking water. If Bapu forgives us, villages die in India.
In most of the Indian villages, education is a far cry and good health is a day dream. The fruits of these two evils — illiteracy and ill health — are bitter to swallow. Death is much opted medicine here to many ailments.
Even in the villages, which are less than hundred kilometers away from ‘Cyberabad,’ people die, kill, and get killed in the name of superstitions. Witchcraft, sorcery and black magic precede all such superstitions.
If any one dies of any undiagnosed disease, people easily attribute to either black magic or witchcraft and do not hesitate to kill those who are suspected to have performed that. Socially boycotting the suspects is comparatively lesser penalty in these cases. A few days ago, villagers of Ulumoor in Khammam district beheaded a person on similar charges.
He was made responsible for the deaths of a twelve year old boy and an old man in quick succession. Investigations revealed that the former had died of appendicitis and the latter, of old age. Five were burnt alive in Timmapur village of Warangal district for allegedly performing sorcery. Police record reveals, as many as 60 innocent people have been killed by the fellow villagers on the charges of black magic and witchcraft in Warangal district alone for the last five years.
At times the case is the other way round. Those who claim that they perform black magic and rid them of evil spirits and exploit innocent people for treating the patients who are falsely believed to be under the spell of witch craft.
However, Villagers always give death penalty to those who are suspected to have practiced witchcraft. It is very painful to note that among the deceased in these social murders, women and people from oppressed sections are frequently found.
A few months ago, Dalits were made to drink potion prepared with urine and human excretion by the villagers in Sadulla nagar of Medak district fifty kilometers away from Andhra Pradesh for allegedly performing black magic.
Government confines itself always to declaring compensation to the deceased, when such cases are reported in media. Problem lies somewhere else. Campaigns of literacy and health awareness have to be taken up not only by the governments but also by voluntary organisations. India can not enter cyber age when villages remain in 17th or 18th century.

First Published on September, 2000 in

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