Indian minister on the carpet for promoting black magic

Patna, India – A federal Indian minister, who danced on glowing coals with hissing cobras around his neck, has run into flak for promoting witchcraft as textbook science of the future.

Communists, women’s groups and the region’s ruling RJD party launched a combined attack yesterday on Junior Human Resources Minister Sanjay Paswan and called for him to resign.

India’s constitution takes a dim view of centuries-old beliefs in occult lore, with a four-year-old law that bans exorcism, witchcraft and sorcery.

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The Communist Party of India said Paswan, who holds a master’s degree in physics, should be locked up for his statements on Monday that black magic should become part of the academic curriculum.

RJD party supremo Laloo Prasad Yadav scoffed at Paswan.

On Monday, Paswan congratulated 51 sorcerers, witchcraft practitioners and faith-healers at a function in Patna where he danced on fire with cobras coiled around his neck and hailed black magic as a “special talent”.

The All India Progressive Women’s Association also sought penal action against the junior cabinet colleague of Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, saying such statements spelled danger for women of the region.

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Sep. 26, 2003

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