INDIA: Murderous Blessings
A TV program with Sanal Edamaruku puts a stop to a crazy 'godman's' horrifying activities
Though Katihar in east Bihar is proud on its Medical College, there are hundreds of people living in the nearby villages who would not seek modern medical treatment for their children when they fall ill. They submit them to a local 'godman' instead, who claims to have magic powers to cure anything from malaria to malnutrition. Baba Jamun Yadav made the poor and illiterate villagers believe that he was able to transfer divine energy through the soles of his feet to their ailing little children. And they allowed him to perform a barbaric ritual.
A camera team of the Indian TV channel Headlines Today caught horrifying scenes of the crazy baba trampling brutally on the tender bodies of hapless infants. He puts one foot with his full weight on their thighs and genitals, the other on their throat, muzzling their screams of deadly terror till they nearly suffocate.
This is nothing but child torture in the garb of religion. But nobody ever stopped the crazy 'holy man' – neither the gullible villagers, nor police and authorities. These cruelties are allegedly going on for some twenty years now. The perpetrator is even making a living out of them as the deluded villagers would shed away gifts and money for his 'blessings'. Nobody knows how many babies have suffered dangerous injuries and sooner or later died as a result of this 'treatment'. And nobody knows what deep psychological wounds and scars this haunting experience has caused in the survivors.
In a live program on Headlines Today, Sanal Edamaruku called for an immediate stop to this madness and for action against the 'godman'. He accused the authorities of tolerating these crimes in the name of religion for political expediency. During the program, pressed for a statement, the Health Minister of Bihar refused to take any action as tradition and religion were involved. Nikhil Chaudhary, member of Indian parliament (from the Hindu nationalist BJP), elected from Katihar where this happened, said: if people are benefited by this ritual they have the right to have it performed. He did not hesitate to defend this barbarism as a respectable part of the local tradition. So did the Shankaracharya swamy, spiritual head and chief priest of Kashi Sumeru peeth. Sanal Edamaruku urged him in the program, over telephone, to use his immense influence among believers and stop such dangerous superstitions.
The program made an enormous impact. After less than 24 hours, the godman was arrested for child torture.