On July 19, 2017, a 3-year-old Purulia girl was rushed to the SSKM Hospital after having seven long needles stabbed into her body. Showing signs of both sexual and physical trauma, doctors tried desperately to save the girl’s life by performing emergency surgery. Tragically, the girl was not able to make a full recovery and died as a result of pneumonia and sepsis.

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Police began investigating the case when the girl had been taken to the Bankura Medical College and Hospital for a cold. Doctors there discovered puncture wounds covering the girl’s body and reported their findings to the police. The girl was rushed to the SSKM Hospital where specialists could have a further look at the wounds. X-rays revealed that the pins had been piercing various internal organs, including the girl’s lungs.

Sanatan Thakur, the man accused of brutalizing the toddler, is currently on the run. Indian police have officially issued a warrant for his arrest under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses (POSCO) Act. Police say that Thakur was given the child by her superstitious mother who had been employed by the man as a domestic servant. It is believed that the man had used the girl as part of a black magic ritual.

The thought of people practicing black magic may seem like a strange concept to most of the modern western world, in India, however, belief in magic and evil spirits are still commonplace. According to a report published by ABC News Australia, black magic has been on the rise in India since 2013.

Black magic rituals have become so commonplace, in fact, that for several years India’s Parliament has had an “Anti-Superstition” bill on the table. The bill, which has been met with mixed feelings by people who hold such beliefs, would outlaw practices that are considered cruel including human sacrifices, self-harm rituals, throwing infants off of a building onto a bed of thorns, parading women naked through the streets, “sexual exploitation by invoking supernatural powers”, and animal sacrifice, according to the Times of India.

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In addition to the murders connected to the practice, the belief in black magic has caused other problems across the country.

ABC News Australia reports that con artists have been making a quick buck selling miracle cures to the gullible. These “gurus” prey upon impoverish communities where beliefs in magic and sorcery are still prevalent.

Another report suggests that the practice could also be responsible for the dwindling owl population. Though the government outlawed capturing and selling owls in 1972 under their Wildlife Protection Act, poachers are thriving by selling the animal on the black market. These owls are later used to make magic elixirs and during wealth rituals.

Many who back the Anti-Superstition Act are hoping that the torture and murder of the Purulia girl will be the final push India’s Parliament needs to pass the bill and to prevent any further harm to the people of India on account of magic practices.