Hyderabad, Jan 21 (IANS): Even in this modern age of technological advancements, sorcery and superstitions are not only rampant in parts of Telangana but continue to claim lives.
In another shocking incident highlighting the deep-rooted menace, a man and his two sons were brutally hacked to death by a group of people who suspected them to be practising black magic.
The incident occurred on Thursday during a meeting of the Yerukala community at Tarakram Nagar in Jagtial district, barely 200 km from the tech hub of Hyderabad.
During a heated argument, some participants in the meeting attacked Nageshwar Rao and his three sons with knives and other sharp-edged weapons and killed them in the presence of 40-50 people.
Nageshwar Rao (55), Jagannatham Ram Babu (35) and Jagannatham Ramesh (30) died on the spot while Rao's youngest son managed to escape.
According to police previous enmity over allegations of sorcery is suspected to be the motive behind the murders. Jagtial Superintendent of Police Sindhu Sharma said the police were conducting a thorough investigation.
Police believe it to be a well-planned crime carried out during the meeting of the community held once in every six months to discuss the problems of its members. The assailants had come to the meeting with knives and other weapons.
Police registered a case and arrested eight accused. Some members of the community had accused Rao and his family members of practising black magic. A month ago Rao was attacked by some unidentified people in Sircilla district
A woman in Yerukala Wada died a week ago and Rao's rivals suspected him to be responsible for her death.
Thursday's triple murder was the second incident related to suspicion of witchcraft in 24-hours. A man and his two sons were assaulted on suspicion of practising black magic. The incident occurred in Jangaon district.
According to police, a man suspected his neighbours after his three-month-old daughter took ill. He along with his relatives attacked Gorey Mian with sticks. They also attacked their two sons when they tried to intervene.
Parts of Telangana have seen a spate of incidents in the past in which people suspected to be practising 'Bhanamati' (a form of black magic) were burnt alive or hacked to death. In most of the cases, the victims were women. They were either murdered, paraded naked or physically abused.
The awareness campaign conducted by police over the last two decades led to a drop in the number of such cases but has not totally eliminated the menace.
Police still use cultural troupes called 'kalabrundam' in the rural areas to create awareness among the people against black magic. A police officer said through the cultural programmes, they try to drive home the message that people should shed superstitious beliefs and don't fall into the trap of tantriks. People are also urged not to suspect black magic for health, financial or other problems.
Not just remote villages and towns but even cities are witnessing such incidents. Hyderabad also saw a murder over black magic in November last year. A man was murdered by his sister's husband after he demanded Rs 2 lakh for treatment of his girl friend as he was suspected them to have performed black magic on her. Four persons, including a home guard, were arrested for the murder.
In November 2020, a Hyderabad techie was burnt alive by his in-laws' family in Jagtial district. The 40-year-old techie, who was blamed for the death of his wife's brother through black magic, was doused with petrol and burnt alive in an ashram run by his in-laws at the Balwantpur village. Police said the techie's wife was also present in the ashram and did nothing to stop the murder. The family was so convinced about the man practising black magic that they felt if he was not killed, he would kill them.
In 2019, an autorickshaw driver was beaten up and thrown into the funeral pyre of a woman, who allegedly died due to black magic performed by him, in Shameerpet on the outskirts of Hyderabad.