Tempers and temperatures are rising, as the state assembly commences its winter session tomorrow. A major sticking pointbetween the government and religious groups to have emerged is the anti-superstition bill.
Immediately after the assassination of anti-superstition crusader Dr Narendra Dabholkar, the state government had passed an ordinance, and now a bill will be tabled in the legislature for discussion. Since the promulgation of the ordinance, several religious groups and members of the Warkari community have been vociferous in their opposition of this law. As a part of this, a protest rally was taken out yesterday evening from Kasba Ganpati temple to the collector’s office by Hindu Janjagruti Samiti (HJS) and Warkaris.
Talking about the objections in this bill, astrologer Dr Dhundiraj Pathak said, “When the ordinance was taken out, I got a copy and started studying it. I came across some very serious issues with this bill, and I discussed these with many lawyers and retired judges. Finally, I came to the conclusion that this bill is against religion and traditional rituals. The main problem in this bill is that it has alluded to the Drugs and Magic Remedies Act, which has a direct connection with religion. On other hand, the people supporting this bill are spreading misinformation amongst people.”
Pathak says he has met almost all the MLAs of the state and is trying to make them aware of the situation. Suggesting a middle path to the government, he said, “If the government adds a clause in this bill, which will have a list of things that are exempted, then it can be passed. In this, things like astrology, wari tradition, vastu science, pooja rituals, etc should be included.”
“Today, 80 per cent of the state’s population is against this bill, as our volunteers are going to each and every district and creating awareness. Our chief minister is not ready to study this bill and the ordinance was brought on the basis of sentimentality. The most serious thing regarding this bill is that the key words are not defined and sentences are ambiguous.
Miracles andsuperpowers have been treated as superstition, there is no security on religious matters, there are several drawbacks, and despite bringing them to notice, no action has been taken,” HJSPune spokesperson Parag Gokhale said.
“Existing laws are adequate for handling offences like cheating and human sacrifice, etc. Why doesn’t the government stringently implement them? This bill is being used only against Hindus, and warkaris from all parts of the state are opposing it,” Rashtriya Warkari Sena vice- president Bappu Maharaj Raokar told MiD DAY
“More than 10,000 wakaris and volunteers of other organisations opposing this bill are going to protest in Nagpur on December 10. The government should take this strong opposition to the bill very seriously and should not pass it in this winter session,” he added.
Did you know?
The draft bill seeks to criminalise practices related to black magic, human sacrifices, use of magic remedies to cure ailments and other such acts, which exploit people’s superstitions. Officially, the draft is known as Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and Other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Bill. The bill was promulgated as an ordinance on 24 August 2013, four days after the assassination of Dabholkar
No of people expected to participate in a December 10 demonstration against the bill