The murder of a 10-year-old child in Magadi, Bengaluru has shocked the state. Ayesha was brutally butchered simply because her killers felt her death would 'drive away' evil spirits. And while such incidents always cause an uproar, the real issue is how prevalent such thoughts are, even among all the super computers and 'smart solutions' of Bengaluru. 

 

Police sources confirmed to Asianet Newsable that many babas and tantriks had made Bengaluru as their home base. They usually claim to give solutions like debt clearance, lifting or placing of curses, creating a child for childless couples and other similar 'miracles'.

 

While it should come as no surprise that there is no dearth of followers for these babas and tantriks. But perhaps more surprisingly, they have a strong following among the Muslim communities in the city. 

 

Take Asif Pasha, for example. A merchant from KR Market, he travels all the way to Magadi to a Dargha where he offers prayers. Many times, the 'Murshid' (priest) ties a 'taveez' (a sacred thread) around his neck.

 

"We believe in a power that is beyond understanding. These days there are also rumours about using 'Kaala Jadu' (black magic) to cast spells on your enemies," said Pasha.

 

Like Pasha, Eliyaz Qureshi, a mutton merchant from Islampur in HAL, also believes in consulting a 'Murshid or Hazrath' who can perform black magic. Qureshi suffered from severe backache, and spending money in hospitals did not give any desirable results. 

 

He got in touch with Rahim Baba from Mandya. "Baba asked me to take a dip in the stream close to his place. Later he gave a Taveez made out of brass. I was told that it (the backache) was a black magic spell cast by rivals as I was doing good in business. Now I am doing better," he said.

 

When asked about giving 'Bali' (sacrifice), he was open about the practice. He said in few places where he had gone to find solutions through black magic, usually a black rooster or hen would be sacrificed, usually on Amavasya (full-moon day).

 

Also Read: In-depth: Selected via Whatsapp, 10-year-old Ayesha was 'sacrificed' to cure paralysis

 

Cases of black magic and witchcraft are not only limited to middle-class families, who are sometimes more susceptible to rumours and superstitions. The educated and influential are also easy prey. A month ago, Shazan Khan divorced his wife Gulnaz over a tantrik.

 

The couple are educated and employed as teachers at reputed institutions in Bengaluru. But possessiveness by the wife for her husband made her fall into a trap laid by a Bengali tantrik from Tannery Road. 

 

"My wife had given my underwear to the Bengali baba to perform a black magic spell. My wife only revealed this once I confronted her after she was caught roaming with the baba. This lack of trust strained our relationship, and hence I divorced her," he said.

 

The matter was referred to the state-run Vanitha Sahaya Vani (Women's helpline centre) where a senior counsellor recorded their statements before granting the divorce. "It is a shame that even educated families are falling into the trap of such tantriks. Prominent businessmen and educated families openly practice such evil methods," said Syed  Iqbal, senior counsel. 

 

The centre sees many divorce cases where the couple accuses each other of black magic. Items like nails, lemons, kumkum, wax dolls, dolls made out of brass and wrapped in a black or green cloth are commonly indicated as signs of black magic in the house. 

 

After hearing many such cases, it seemed evident that the modernity that surrounds the city has little to no effect on the minds of many of its residents, who seem unable to give up their ancient superstitions or hopes for a 'black magic' solution.