SANGAREDDY: Banamathirelated cases are on the rise in the backward Medak district. As many as 16 such cases were registered last year, including two incidents of killing for alleged witchcraft. Reports of attack on people for practising sorcery come mainly from Narayankhed, Narsapur, Chegunta, Ramayampet, Mirdoddi and Hutnur areas in the district.
Police say there is no change in public perception despite conducting awareness programmes with the help of cultural teams. There is no impact though cases are registered under section 302 in Banamathirelated murders, they say. On the other hand, people claim Banamathi is practised by a number of sorcerers in the district.
Incidents of people attacking practitioners of witchcraft are many and the punishments range from burning to death, lynching and beating up severely to making them drink their own urine.
Two years ago, at Pedagottimukkala village in Sivampet mandal, villagers attacked Rajaiah, alleging that he used Banamathi against others in the village. He was beaten up and burnt at the stake right in the village. When Rajaiah's wife came to his rescue, she too was beaten badly. In a similar incident, an old couple were attacked and burnt alive in the middle of Ullithimmayapalli village in Chegunta mandal. Villagers alleged that Pandla Sailu (65) and wife Poshamma (60) caused ill health to people and death to cattle with them magic spells. The couple have neither children nor any other relatives in the village.
In 2010, there were eight witchcraft cases reported in the district, including a murder. There were 13 cases the year before, involving lynching (two incidents) and severe beating after tying the suspected socerers to trees. Cases like these are reported mainly from areas with low literacy rates.