Kolkata, Feb 15 (IANS) Two children died while two others are still in hospital after their parents took them to exorcists instead of a doctor or a health facility when they fell ill in the Gajole area of West Bengal’s Malda district, officials said on Saturday.
One of the exorcists has been arrested on Saturday, the police said.
The children — between three and seven years of age — complained of indisposition on Friday evening when they returned home in Kadamtali village after playing.
“The kids complained of headache, stomach ache and eyesight problem. The superstitious villagers thought they are possessed by evil spirits and took them to a couple of exorcists. They apparently treated them for half-an-hour and said the spirits have identified,” said a local resident.
But as the children’s condition continued to deteriorate, they were rushed to Malda Medical College and Hospital. But Mohammad Firoz, 5, died on the way, while Safiqul, 7, passed away in the hospital on Saturday morning, a hospital official said.
Kohinoor, 6, and Shabnoor, 8, are now under treatment in the isolation ward. They are said to be stable.
Gajole MLA Dipali Biswas, who visited the hospital on Saturday, said the two surviving kids are “more or less ok”.
“I spoke to their mothers. They said they fell ill while playing. According to the two ladies, they believe the place is haunted by evil spirits, and so they called the exorcist.
“They say it is a place haunted by ghosts, so they called the ojhas (exorcists). They did their exorcism for two-three hours. As the kids’ condition did not improve, they decided to take them to the hospital,” Biswas said.
Regretting the superstitions among the rural population, she said, “People generally don’t believe in exorcists nowadays. This is a superstition. A section of people in the villages still lack consciousness. They are still superstitious.”
Biswas said he would conduct a door-to-door campaign in the area to raise the level of awareness among the locals.