Controversial anti-suspension law criminalised fire-walks, beating up people by declaring them evil
A controversial anti-superstition law in Karnataka was recently notified by the current BJP government on January 4, 2020. The anti-suspension was passed during the tenure of a Congress government in a diluted form as the Karnataka Prevention and Eradication of Inhumane Evil Practices and Black Magic Act, 2017. The law is piloted by the Social Welfare Department. Deputy Chief Minister Govind Karjol, a member of Dalit community that bears the burnt of several irrational practices, heads the Social Welfare Department.
What does the anti-superstition law say?
The law was initially drafted as the Karnataka Anti-Superstition Bill, 2013. It made inflicting self-wound, conversion through bribery illegal. The 2014 and 2016 drafts also included practices considered to have Vedic origins, such as astrology and Vaastu as illegal practices. The bill was opposed by the then-opposition BJP and other various groups.
The current version of the bill by BJP government doesn’t include the practice of Vastu, astrology, circumambulation of holy places, pradakshina, parikarmas performed at religious places and yatras as a punishable offence.
Made Snana is banned under the new law with respect to having Dalits roll over leftover food. This practice has been now made voluntary and involving leftover food.
Practices such as barring menstruating women and girls from entering houses of worship and their homes beating up people by declaring them evil, coercing people to take part in fire-walks have been banned under the law.
Punishment for the new law
The anti-superstition law says that one who violates the law can be imprisoned for one year, which may extend to seven years and with fine of Rs 5000 to Rs 50,000.
Vigilance officers as per the law will be appointed by the state police at the police stations, who will implement the law.
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