- Research/Scholar Paper name – “Witch Hunting in India – Need for a Central Legislation”
- Author: Vidya Kakra
- Institution: Symbiosis Law School, Noida
- Affiliation: Centre for Study of Contemporary Legal Issues
- Date of Publication: 14/09/2021
India has become a modern society, recognizing fundamental rights to privacy, reputation, and access to the internet, however, it continues to remains backwards and orthodox in its beliefs and societal practices. The minds of the majority of the population, especially those in the rural areas have been fogged by superstitions, so much so that they are part of their cultural and religious oppression systems. Over the years, this has led to intolerance and a rapid increase in the rate of crimes committed in the name of superstitions. One such evil that germinated due to this rigid belief system is Witch-hunting.
The evil of Witch-Hunting is a practice of torturing women who are accused of possessing witchcraft or evil magical powers, at the behest of protecting humanity. Although considered a draconian practice by many, unfortunately, it continues to persist, especially in rural India. It stigmatizes particular classes of individuals, often widowed mothers, childless women, elderly couples, low-caste women. Men, who call themselves ‘witch-hunters’, kill these innocent women, rape them, acquire their land, and sometimes use it as a tool for vengeance. Between 2000 and 2016, more than 2,500 women in India were tortured and killed in these hunts in the states of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Bihar, according to India’s National Crime Records Bureau.
Although various state laws have been enacted to address this issue, the unpleasant reality of witch-hunting and human sacrifice continues to grapple our society. The torture inflicted through this practice infringes the basic human rights of women to a good living. This research article aims to study and analyse the causes, effects and reasons behind its continued persistence in rural India. It strives to throw light upon how the prevalent State legislations on Witch- Hunting are ineffective in alleviating the evil practice and emphasizes the pressing need for Central Legislation to curb the same.