Monday, June 17, 2024

Exorcising superstition


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Apropos your write-up “Conspiracy of silence” by Patricia Mukhim (ST 14 Oct, 2011) yes, even civilized and educated people can be stiff-necked and act like irrational lynch mobs. On Aug 16, 2010, two teenaged brothers, Mughees and Muneeb were beaten to death and lynched by a mob in front of senior police officials in Sialkot. They were accused of committing a robbery when they were absolutely innocent. On June 9, 2011, Rangers in Karachi shot a youth with their rifles, as he had been accused of committing a robbery. He lay injured on the cemented floor, begging the Rangers personnel to take him to hospital but in vain. He fell unconscious and finally died, lying in a pool of blood.

Many rickshaws and pickups have a tiny-tot’s shoe or slipper hanging in the back. It is supposed to act as a charm to prevent them from accidents. If the shoe is there, nobody can cast an evil eye on them. Many private vehicles have a piece of black cloth tied below the fender in the back to keep them safe and sound on the roads. That is superstition for you in the metropolis of Karachi.

The city is rife with Pirs who are visited by hundreds of people from both sexes. Some want a baby, some want a good marriage proposal for their daughter, some want a white-collar job, some want to be rid of a certain illness, and some want a jinn to be exorcised.

Having been born, bred and raised in Kolkata, I have heard a lot about Bengal ka kala jadoo (black magic). However, I know it does happen as some of my relatives have been killed who were victims of jealousy. My paternal aunt vouches for the fact that a clay pot filled with toxin fell in the courtyard and her elder brother died instantly after vomiting — all right in front of her eyes. In Pakistan, many innocent people are accused of blasphemy by their enemies and killed in cold blood.

I totally agree with you that “it is pure and simple psychosis fuelled by superstition”. However, to exorcise this societal demon from our minds is easier said than done.

Kudos to you on an excellent piece. You made my day!

Yours etc.,

Mohsin Maqbool Elahi.,



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