Professor Shyam Manav, founder of the Akhil Bharatiya Andha Shraddha Nirmulan Samiti, and a close friend and colleague of murdered activist Narendra Dabholkar, addressed a seminar on investigation of black magic cases Monday evening.
Police officers from all over Mumbai attended the event, during which Prof Manav explained the intricacies of the Act as well as demystified certain ‘magic’ feats performed by self-styled godmen.
The seminar, which was held in the Prerna Hall near the Esplanade Court from 6 pm, was attended by police inspectors (crime) of each police station in Mumbai, as well as Assistant Commissioner of Police, social service branch, Rajdoot Rupawate and Deputy Commissioner of Police (enforcement) Pravin Patil and DCP (detection) Dhananjay Kulkarni, who is also the Mumbai Police spokesperson.
Addressing the policemen, Prof Manav explained how godmen claimed to light a ‘yagya’ fire by the power of their incantations. Placing a piece of paper in a small vessel and holding a small bottle of ghee in his hand, Prof Manav said, “Supposed saints tell their followers that they will light the fire by chanting mantras. They further say that if there is a single sinner among the devotees present, his negative vibrations will interfere with the purity of his mantras and prevent the fire from lighting. This way, if the trick works, it is due to the saint’s magic, and if it does not, the sins of the devotees take the blame.”
Prof Manav then poured the ghee onto the piece of paper, and it burst into flames. “What, no sinners here?” someone quipped from a back row, inciting titters of laughter.
“The bottle actually contained glycerin, and there were pieces of potassium permanganate hidden within the piece of paper. Glycerin and potassium permanganate undergo an exothermic reaction when they come in contact with each other. Typically, dhoop (crystals of incense) is used in yagya fires, and potassium permanganate is hidden among these crystals. There is a small amount of glycerin in the ghee which is poured on the incense, and the exothermic reaction is enough for a fire to start,” Prof Manav said.
Prof Manav also fielded questions from the policemen about the Act. Responding to a question on whether the police could file a complaint even if the victims of superstitious practices themselves did not approach the police, the professor said, “In such cases, the police can become the complainant and register an offense. It is not only permitted under the Act but is also the responsibility of the designated vigilance officer to register a case as soon as he learns of such a practice.”
Another policeman asked about practices followed by self-styled tantriks or astrologers, who make people donate money or conduct rituals, threatening them with financial or other losses if they don’t obey.
Prof Manav said that inducing fear of loss is liable for action under the Act.
“The PI (Crime) of each police station is the designated vigilance officer for cases under the Black Magic Act in their respective jurisdictions, and the seminar has been held so that they could have a better understanding of the Act as well as clear any doubts that they may have,” said DCP Kulkarni.
‘Claiming to have divine powers is punishable under black magic Act’
Commenting on the ongoing controversy surrounding Sukhvinder Kaur popularly known as Radhe Maa (50), who was recently booked by the Kandivali police in a dowry harassment case, Dr Manav said not only Radhe Maa, but her followers and supporters could also face action under the Black Magic Act. “Claiming to have divine powers and inciting fear in the minds of people is punishable under the Act. Not only Radhe Maa, but all those who support her, including some well known names, could face action under the Act, which includes a minimum of six months of imprisonment. I can only advise people to stop supporting her,” he said.
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