Witch-hunting (Dayans of India)
Witch-hunting, the erstwhile tool
of medieval and early modern period of history is still existent in many places
The recorded cases talk of over thousands of women victims murdered in this
decade only – in India
of 21st Century.
And we don’t need any ‘ifs and
buts of a rational thinking process’, to say that the cases not reported would
certainly be multiple of it, given the kind of ‘prevalence belts’ this
witch-hunting or ‘punishing the Dayan’ exists in. Dayan is the Indian term for
Witch-hunting cases are commonly
reported from states like Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal but we
do come across victimization of women in the name of ‘witchcraft’ from other
states, be it Uttar Pradesh or Kerala, representing two geographical extremes
of India, or many other states in between or across, to support the claim.
Google is a wonderful tool. Do a
simple Web-search with tags like ‘Dayan + India’
or ‘witch-hunting + India’
and you will come across pages and pages of results on victimization of women
in the name of witch-hunting. And mind you, you can come across cases that
happened just yesterday or the last week.
Victimization of women under the
garb of punishing witchcraft is basically an easily available tool to the
patriarchal mindset of the rural and semi-urban areas of many states in India. Though
it is more virulent in the socioeconomically poorer segments of the social
formations, well-to-do families are found it practicing as well.
The purpose is more or less
similar in almost of the cases of witch-hunting as it is found on investigation
– settling score, usurping property in the name of the victim, getting rid of a
wife a man no longer wants to be with, efforts to discard a daughter-in-law a
family wants to throw out – there are varied reasons – but all target women,
causing them mental and physical torture.
And most of these women do not
report. They cannot report. Being hounded by the family and the immediate
society, they are not allowed to approach the police even if they are fortunate
enough to have the police officials ready to act on such complaints of socially
Their fate is more or less
similar thus. Yes, the background only exacerbates the problem. Many have to
suffer and live the life of outcasts. Many are forced to make compromises. Many
die living such lives. Many are killed outrightly.
Yes, there is a law again, to
contain and eliminate this socially mandated crime but it is failing again. The
social humiliation and the subsequent personal assassination in the name of sanitizing
a society from a Dayan’s presence continue.