Patna : The practice of sorcery and exorcism to cure ailing people has been banned in Bihar's Vaishali district and a drive to root out the social evil has been ordered.
The Vaishali district administration had declared the practice of sorcery and exorcism illegal. The decision followed reports that a village quack used to operate on ailing people with a sword instead of surgical equipment.
"The administration had banned the evil practice of sorcery and exorcism in the district," Lallan Singh, the District Magistrate, said Friday.
Vaishali has become the first district in Bihar to ban sorcery. The district administration has ordered sub-divisional officers, block development officers and police officials to take action against those found practicing it.
Singh said the practice of sorcery and exorcism was rampant in rural parts of the district. "Hundreds of people, mostly women and children were duped by quacks claimed to cure them by exorcising evil spirits," he said.
Health officials said the quacks claimed that women who had trouble conceiving would be able to become mothers after they had been exorcised of evil spirits. They also targeted other women who were in trouble, promising to help them get rid of their problems.
"I have issued directions to officers in charge of all the police stations to stop the practice and take action to punish them," Singh told IANS.
He said he would order the police to lodge an official complaint against block officials and panchayat representatives if a case of sorcery or exorcism was reported from their respective areas.
Two days ago, the district administration raided Akilabad village about 50 km from here to arrest a quack, Shankar Baba alias Talwar Baba, who used to operate on ailing people with a sword. However, the man managed to flee before the police could arrest him.
"Shankar Baba is on the run in after the police decided to arrest him for his illegal practice of operating on ailing people" police officials said.
The strange methods of Talwar Baba, who also used to jump on the neck and stomach of his patients, came to light when local television news channels did stories about the so-called surgeon.
Sources in the district administration said Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar directed the local administration to take action against Talwar Baba for what an official described as "brutal, dangerous and illegal operations".
It was said that the quack, after operating people with swords, used to patch up the wounds and even give his own blood as medicine. Despite his bizarre methods, Talwar Baba attracted hundreds of patients. He charged Rs 51 from poor patients and Rs 501 from the rich for his treatment.