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Rationalists urge Govt to deal with superstition-related cases firmly
Staff Reporter
 GUWAHATI, July 7 - The shocking incident of superstition-related violence in Kalaigaon on Saturday has led rationalists from across the society to urge the government to be firm in dealing with superstition-related cases, which are alarmingly on the rise across the State.

The horrific incident involved a science teacher, who under the influence of a tantrik, allegedly attempted a child sacrifice. A group of seven people, including three women, in a disrobed condition, were performing a puja in a makeshift prayer hut with the minor by their side, when local residents spotted them and raised the alarm. A scuffle that followed left three of the accused persons injured in police firing, one of whom succumbed to his injuries at GMCH on Sunday.

Reacting sharply to the incident, national joint secretary of the All India People’s Science Network (AIPSN) Isfaqur Rahman said such incidents were on rise in Assam in the past 5-6 years, but the government hardly took any concrete measures to prevent them. “It seems superstitious practices have an institutional patronage. After the infamous Dokmoka incident, the government started a drive called ‘Sanskar: Manuhe Manuhor Babe’. Unfortunately, the entire exercise remained confined to mere sloganeering. At a time when our ministers and government officials publicly endorse superstitious rituals and wait for the right muhurat for opening a bridge, what would be the status of rationality in our society?” Rahman asked.

Assam State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (ASCPCR) chairperson Sunita Changkakoti said the Commission was watching the case closely and if the child rights angle is involved, it will take prompt action and write to the government as well as the district authorities to take action.

Asking the State government to keep tantriks and self-styled godmen under surveillance, human rights activist Dibyajyoti Saikia said that at a time when even well-educated people were falling prey to superstition, the issue cannot be taken lightly. “Every other day, incidents related to tantrik, oja, bez and fakirs are being reported from all corners of the State, where such people claim having some supernatural power. Without bringing the issue of religion and faith, our administration must keep such elements under watch as they have the potential to disturb the law and order situation. Unless superstition is included as a chapter in our school curriculum, and the health department takes a leading role in addressing health issues in far-flung areas, such elements would continue to take advantage of the situation,” he said.

Social activist Anurita P Hazarika of the North East Network, while condemning the incident, said that awareness against superstition should be started at the school level. “It is high time a scientific inquiry is conducted analysing the role of our education system in training the young minds to become sensitive and responsible citizens,” she said.

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