Believe it or not, human sacrifice is still rampant around the world as well as in India. The first attempt to legally curb all these inhumane practices, however, was made in Maharashtra! In India, Maharashtra was the first state to enact the Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act, 2013. Late Dr Narendra Dabholkar and his Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti i.e. MANS (Maharashtra Anti Superstition Committee) lead the initiative. A similar law has recently been passed by the Ugandan parliament. Child sacrifice was a common practice in Uganda. The new law has been drafted and passed to curb the atrocity.
The Prohibition of Human Sacrifice Bill was recently passed in Uganda and has a deep connection to India. The interesting thing is that the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti (MANS) has helped the country to draft and enact this law.
What is the law in Uganda?
The law is called 'The Prevention and Prohibition of Human Sacrifice Bill, 2020' and the country’s Parliament passed the law by a majority. According to the new law, individuals - who will be convicted of participating in human sacrifice – will face a death sentence or life imprisonment.
The Prevention and Prohibition of Human Sacrifice Bill 2020 were tabled by Ayivu County MP, Bernard Atiku. The existing law does not provide punishment for the crime of human sacrifice but is considered as murder or related offences under the Penal Code Act. Atiku argued that because human sacrifice involves children and relatives, it is difficult to handle the cases under the existing legal provisions, making it difficult to pursue justice for the victims and the survivors.
How did MANS help Uganda?
To get a better idea of the law and India’s contribution to it, we contacted the Ugandan MP. “We were doing research to make this law. We came to know that this type of law exists only in India. We tried to get some help from India in that regard. We tried to get some people to come here and give us some guidance, but it didn't work out. However, part of the existing law in India was useful to us. This helped us to draft our law. MANS helped us in this work online,” he said.
Avinash Patil, state president of MANS, said, "We were contacted by Ungada. We had given them the guidance they needed for their law in the backdrop of the legislation we made. The process was underway and the law has now been passed.”
In this regard, Prof Dr Sudesh Ghoderao said, “In a backward country like Uganda in the African continent, it is a bad practice to sacrifice children. Benard Atiku, a sensitive MP there, felt that this kind of impropriety should be banned by law. An eight-member committee of Benard Atiku, chairman of the Uganda Parliamentary Forum for Children and MP, was pushing for the law. While researching this, he noticed that this type of law exists all over the world in the state of Maharashtra in India. And then he contacted Avinash Patil, the working president of MANS, and me and started a dialogue."
"Anny Ekpa, secretary to MP Benard Atiku, was in constant touch with MANS. His insistence in November 2018 was that one of the two leading figures in the MANS organization and the responsible minister in the government who enacted the law in the state should come to Uganda and present the details before their parliament and guide them. Former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan had also expressed readiness to go to Uganda with Avinash Patil. But the dates they expected were Diwali here and for some other reason the dates were not coordinated. However, MANS agreed to provide full details, guidance and technical and ideological assistance in this regard and provided all possible assistance accordingly. That is why this type of law has come into existence in Uganda. This is definitely a matter of pride for Maharashtra,” he added.
What is the law in Maharashtra?
MANS is the only organization in the state of Maharashtra to enact two such laws in a row. The two laws are 'Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act, 2013' and 'The Maharashtra Prohibition of People from Social Boycott (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2017’.
Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act, 2013 is an important law in the state of Maharashtra. There was a demand for this law since the 1990s. This law was, however, opposed by some of the right-inclined organizations. MANS had struggled for nearly 20 years to get the law passed under the guidance of Dabholkar, the founder of the organisation. Now, this law and many other similar acts, which can lead to the exploitation of people through superstition, are considered a criminal offence. After Dabholkar's assassination, the bill was introduced on August 26, 2013, and was formally introduced in the Winter Session of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly in Nagpur in December 2013.
Despite reports of human sacrifice around the world in recent times, there are very few regions including Uganda, Maharashtra, and Karnataka, among others that have taken an initiative to prevent these or at least bring such acts under criminal offences. Now in India as well, MANS is requesting the Centre take action and introduce this law nationally.
Here’s hoping that there is more awareness about this atrocity leading to more action.