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Saturday, October 1, 2022

Muslim cleric prevents medical help, 11-year-old dies: Kannur, Kerala

35-year-old Islamic ‘faith healer’ Muhammad Uwais was arrested by Kannur police after an 11-year-old girl died at his ‘healing center.’ Fathima, a seventh-standard student was denied medication and forced to fast and recite verses of the Quran even as she died. Abdul Sathar, the dead girl’s father is greatly influenced by Uwais and he too has been detained.

Uwais’s words mirrored his Islamist doctrine. “Doctors are devils and hospitals hell. If you die in a hospital, you will never go to Heaven. So never visit hospitals.” He ran his ‘healing center’ from his house and is the cleric at a local mosque.

On October 26, the girl developed a fever and her father rushed her to Uwais. The ‘healing process’ began with the sick girl being fed only ‘holy water’ and this continued for five days. By October 31, her condition worsened and it forced her father to take her to a private hospital, where she died. 

The victim’s paternal uncle approached the police and registered a complaint about the unnatural death of the young girl. A post-mortem was conducted that revealed that she died of anemia, lung infection and high fever.

Sathar told the Police that the cleric advised him to avoid hospitals and that is why he never took her to one. Even after his arrest, Uwais remained adamant and told the police that there was no need to take the girl to a hospital. He denied witchcraft but said that he served ‘Quran-infused’ water to patients who came to him.

Sathar & Uwais were charged under sections related to culpable homicide not amounting to murder and cruelty to children under the juvenile justice act. The duo was produced in court and remanded to police custody.

Many years ago, Uwais’s wife was pregnant but he never took her to a hospital but instead made her deliver the baby at home. This was a publicity stunt that worked wonders for him. The sick and infirm started flocking to his place for specialized ‘healing treatment.’ 

He became a busy man catering to his followers and it has been so for the past 8 years. Treatment included in-house consultations and even ‘water infused with Quran verses’ that were oddly enough delivered over the phone. Though the cleric never insisted on remuneration, he accepted handsome donations for his ‘services.’ 

Uwais’s words are eerily reminiscent of Tablighi Jamaat leader Maulana Saad’s exhortation last year to Muslims to avoid social distancing during Coronavirus epidemic and instead flock to mosques, warning them that “Satan is using this ppportunity (pandemic) to lead us astray from our religious duties in the name of precautions, treatment, and protection.”

A history of homicides

A 75-year-old named Safiya who had trouble breathing died after Uwais convinced her to stop conventional medicines. Without her medication, she departed under mysterious circumstances in May 2014. In Aug 2016, Safiya’s son Ashraf (53) died of unnatural causes.

In 2017, Safiya’s sister Nafeesu broke her leg after she fell down and Uwais promptly started her treatment.  As usual, Uwais stopped her allopathy treatment and by April 2017, she was dead too. 

Another mysterious death happened in May 2018 when Anwar (57) died at Uwais’s house. 

Nafeesu’s son Siraj Padikkal said that he tried his best to get the administration to investigate the strange phenomenon that resulted in unexplained deaths. He filed a complaint but the police refused to register an FIR and did not order a post-mortem as requested by him. 

Siraj added that this attitude helped the criminal escape justice. He has now demanded the authorities re-investigate all the deaths that happened at the faith healer’s place, something that the police should have done years ago. 

11-year-old Fathima’s death went viral and citizens started to protest and this prompted the police to take action. Many organizations have now joined hands and want all the suspicious deaths probed. Had there been no opposition, would the police have done anything? 

Kannur city police commissioner R Ilango said all mysterious deaths in the past 7 years will be investigated and legal advice sought as and when needed. 

Interestingly, Siraj and Uwais were living at the same residence in Kannur and Siraj allegedly fell out with Uwais’s occult practices and left the house.

There are at least 3 such Muslim occult practitioners in one square km around Uwais’s house. One is Uwais’s mother-in-law and there is also another lady in the same vicinity. There are dozens of such Islamic ‘healers’ aka quacks in Kannur and hundreds in Kerala.

As per Siraj, Uwais himself influenced at least 10 families who have never taken immunity vaccinations, including the covid-19 ones. Several followers who fell sick were prevented from seeking proper medical advice. Such black magic practitioners enjoy a cult following and in turn prove hazardous for the common man.

A draft of the anti-superstition bill has been pending with the state government since 2019. Modeled on the anti-superstition laws adopted by Maharashtra in 2013 & Karnataka in 2017, the self-proclaimed ‘number one’ progressive state never accepted it. Its another matter that the anti-superstition bills introduced by Congress governments in Maharashtra and Karnataka have been used to exclusively target Hindus, including harmless traditions and beliefs, while ignoring the quack healing racket through which Muslim and Christian preachers fool gullible followers.

Generally, a lack of witnesses in such cases has ensured that fakes like Uwais even if arrested will escape stringent punishment.

Most of the MLAs from Kannur are communists including Pinarayi Vijayan, the Kerala CM. Minority appeasement makes these leaders turn their backs on such exploitative religious practise, while the same Communists denigrate temple-going Hindu girls as promiscuous. Even though it happened in his home state, Vijayan and his comrades have not spoken or condemned the cleric. Kerala never had the will to tackle such menaces and it clearly shows that literacy in itself is not education.  

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