Mumbai: The Western Railway has banned illegal advertisements carrying messages of tantriks, black magicians and occultists inside the coaches of suburban trains, an official said Monday. Railway authorities and the railway police are jointly exploring the possibility of using the stringent Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and Other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Bill, 2011, to nail ‘Bangali babas’ pasting their cure-for-everything-under-the-sun posters inside local trains.
The ban has been enforced under the new Maharashtra Black Magic Act which seeks to eradicate human sacrifice, inhuman, evil and aghori practices.
The WR warned that the law stipulates a jail term of up to seven years if anybody is found pasting such advertisements in the suburban trains and thereby propagating superstitious practices and witchcraft.
The WR is continuing a drive to clean out coaches of such advertisements and has detected 156 cases of illegal pasting of stickers, the official said.
While six people have already been sent to jail, the WR also recovered penalties of Rs.152,300 for the offenses.
The coaches of the trains on WR’s suburban section between Churchgate-Dahanu, used by over four million commuters daily, are a favourite site for display advertisements and stickers of various products and services, including black magicians.
The issue of such evil practices suddenly came to the fore after the killing of prominent anti-superstition campaigner Narendra Dabholkar in Pune Aug 20. His killers are yet untraced and on the run.
What Railway Police says:
Railway Police Commissioner Prabhat Kumar said that discussions on the matter had taken place during a meeting of the railway police brass with the Railway Protection Force (RPF). The RPF, being a central government paramilitary force under the railway ministry, does not have the powers to use state laws, such as the recently-enacted anti-superstition bill, and will have to depend on the railway police, a state government agency, for it.
Kumar said, “It will all depend on the kind of case the RPF transfers to us. We will have to study the act in detail to see where the pasting of such posters fits in.”
Western Railway (WR) authorities, however, are optimistic, with an official statement from WR stating that the new anti-black magic law does have ‘a provision of imprisonment of up to seven years if anyone is found pasting such advertisements in trains and, thereby, propagating superstitious practices and witchcraft’.
WR chief spokesperson Sharat Chandrayan told that the railways, in tandem with the railway police, will work towards invoking these provisions to act against the offenders.
The pasting of such posters is a big headache for the train-runners in the city; apart from dirtying the trains’ interiors, it also hits advertisement revenues in a big way as many of these posters are pasted over legitimate advertisements, leading to the advertisers crying foul and holding back payments to the railways.
The RPF uses sections 144 (canvassing in railway carriage without requisite railway permissions) and 166 (defacing or damaging railway board or document pasted inside railway carriage) of the Railway Act, 1989, to take action against people pasting illegal posters inside trains. While section 144 comes with a fine of Rs1,000 and/or a jail term of up to one year, section 166 has a fine of Rs500 and/or jail term of a month.
WR, in a statement, said that in the first eight months of 2013, 156 cases of illegal pasting of stickers had been detected on its trains in which Rs1,52,300 was realised as fine and six people were sent to jail.
Tackling superstition in compartments
WR authorities are optimistic, with a statement from WR stating the new anti-black magic law has ‘a provision of imprisonment of up to 7 years if anyone is found pasting such advertisements in trains and, thereby, propagating superstitious practices and witchcraft’
Presently, the RPF uses sections 144 (canvassing in railway carriage without requisite permissions) and 166 (defacing or damaging railway board or document pasted inside railway carriage) of the Railway Act, 1989, to take action against people pasting illegal posters inside trains.