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Is Cannibalism Legal In India?

Under the criminal laws of India, cannibalism is definitely a crime for which one can face serious consequences and even a life sentence. But then there are Aghoris, who practice cannibalism in India, and you may wonder what’s that all about, right? Well, let’s go in-depth and take a good look at every scenario regarding this particular topic, shall we?

Cannibalism means eating another person’s flesh. Over the years, some cultures did incorporate the practice as part of their ritual. One such group is the Aghori tribe in India which eats human remains during their spiritual rituals, believing that doing so brings them close to enlightenment. This indicates that cannibalism could vary in its definitions given or received among different cultures.


What Are The Laws Regarding Cannibalism In India?

Cannibalism is not prohibited under any specific law in India; however, there are several laws that govern the acts and other related laws to it. For instance, according to Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, one person can be held criminally responsible for the charges of murder if he kills another for eating. If someone takes human remains from a grave, they might be charged under Section 297, which is about trespassing on burial places.

There have been many such cases in India, and very famous among these is the Nithari kand. In this, bones of many children and women had been found in a house in Noida. The owner of the house and his servant have been arrested, facing the charges of rape, murder, and alleged cannibalism. This case shows the complex issues in making laws that specifically address cannibalism.

What About The Aghori Practitioners?

Aghori are a sub-group of ascetic sadhus in the Shaiva tradition. They are notorious for using human remains in their practice during rituals to harness spiritual enlightenment. What makes this practice unique is that they share a settlement with the bone-cremating people, and use their remains not just for rituals but also as jewelry and food. Their history is clearly that of cannibalism, showing complex cultural meanings.

India’s legal system struggles with cannibalism because there are no direct laws against it. Most cases of cannibalism come under the purview of the law of murder and other serious crime acts. It becomes further complex when such practices are culturally associated with a group of people, e.g., the Aghori. There is a need for clearer legislation with regard to this. Cannibalism raises very many ethical and moral questions. Today’s society, if not all, considers the concept of eating another human as wrong and quite appalling. But this cultural and ritual practice still leads to conflicts in morality.


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