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About 20 Muslim families left their village in Western Rajasthan following alleged threats from Hindu upper caste villagers, in a string of events starting with the murder of a folk singer, said a report by the Hindustan Times. The 200-odd Muslim men and women have been staying under police protection in homes of their relatives at Balad, about 20 kilometres away from their village in Dantal, Jaisalmer district.
Trouble began brewing in Dantal village on September 27, where a folk singer Amad Khan performed religious songs. This village is 700 kilometres away from the state capital Jaipur.
The singer hailed from Manganiyar community of Muslims, known for their expertise in folk songs, has been performing in Navratri gatherings in the village temple for nearly a decade.
Trouble began during a Navratri function, when Ramesh Suthar, the village ‘Faith Healer’, had reportedly asked the folk singer to sing a particular raag which is believed to please the goddess and enable him to get possessed by the spirit of the presiding deity. This would bestow the faith healer with miraculous ability to cure people.
When nothing, as expected, took place, the faith healer blamed Khan’s substandard singing. The singer was held responsible for the “goddess to abandon him.” The priest assaulted the 45-year-old singer who was held responsible for his music not being able to lead the priest into a state of trance during the ritual.
Khan was blamed for not singing the song in the correct tune. The assault led to lynching which took place outside Khan’s house. Three villagers including Suthar went to musician’s house in the evening and thrashed him again. Suthar, along with two of his relatives, Tara Ram and Shyam Ram, dragged the singer of his home, thrashed him and damaged his instruments. Khan reportedly succumbed to injuries on the spot.
When The Logical Indian spoke to Additional Superintendent of Police, Jaisalmer, Jay Narayan Meena, he said, “Ramesh Suthar has been arrested and the others are on a run. The police are closely investigating the case.”
The villagers later convinced Khan’s family to claim that he had died of natural causes and they were asked not tell anyone about the incident. The news of Khan’s death reached the police 24 hours later. The villagers collectively claimed that the singer died due to natural causes and the police returned without initiating any probe.
Three days later, members of the Manganiyar community entered into a scuffle with the upper-caste community members, where the latter had refused to give them water for rituals around Khan’s death. Informed about the tension in the village, the police again visited the spot, only to be persuaded that it was a minor matter.
Khan’s family members again approached the police upon being convinced to do so by a relative visiting them from Jodhpur. This led the police to unravel the plot conceived by the villagers. Police registered a case against Suthar, the prime guilty and booked him in a case of murder. Khan’s body has also been exhumed and sent for a post-mortem.
Suge Khan, the singer’s brother said, “We were scared and buried his body quietly”, according to a report by the Hindustan Times.
All 20 Manganiyar families have fled from the village. The district administration is trying to convince them to return to the village. After the complaint was lodged, the faith healer, Ramesh Suthar had ordered all the Muslim members of the community to leave the village.
According to a report by the Hindustan Times, Suge Khan, said, “They threatened us that if we did not leave the village, they will kill us all.” After that, all the 20 members fled the village and took shelter in the nearby Balad village.
Dantal village Sarpanch, on the other hand, has refuted the allegations of threat and maintained that Amad Khan died due to a cardiac arrest. He said, villagers had only suggested to not take the matters to the police since it was a case of cardiac arrest. When the people refused to accompany Amad Khan to register the case, they angrily left the village.
The police have been trying to convince the Muslim families to return to their village and have ensured of police protection if needed. They have also assured that cases will be lodged if they threaten the Muslims. However, the police have only lodged a case against the prime accused but have refrained from officially accusing anyone of threat and intimidation.
The Logical Indian community strongly condemns the practices of superstition that was done by the priest Ramesh Suthar. It also urges the concerned authorities to look into the matter and ensure proper investigation so that justice is meted out to the deserved. The entire fiasco of killing someone is rooted at the fact that the faith healer wanted to summon the goddess in his bodies which would bestow him with supernatural powers.
In an era where we are heading towards a greater, modern society and progressive attitudes of communities, such superstitious practices only point to the lack of education and awareness among the citizens of our country. Reformative education is the building block for the progress of any society.
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