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Devil’s test for Garo hills

Tura, April 22: Christian groups in Meghalaya’s Garo hills are working to quell the rapid growth of Satanism after reports that several teenagers had taken up devil worship.

At least 26 teenagers are undergoing counselling at different churches in Tura.

A report prepared by groups working to curb the practice said there are several young groups in Tura and Williamnagar that are engaged in Satanism. However, they refused to divulge the numbers.

The practice was first reported from Matchakolgre locality in Tura last week, following which a vigilance committee was formed.

Salinder Sangma, secretary of Matchakolgre Development Committee, said, “We are terribly disturbed that teenagers are getting into such practice. We have found a group of children, who were high on intoxicants at the graveyard. We have referred them to the church for counselling.”

He said a group of 10 boys was recently found attempting to write on the walls. “I feel the cult is spreading like ‘wildfire’ due to an identity crisis among the youth,” Sangma added.

He said West Garo Hills SP Mukesh Singh has extended full co-operation in checking the practice. “The police are ensuring regular patrolling of the graveyards in different localities,” said Sangma.

The actual strength of Satan worshippers is difficult to determine, but such groups also exist in Tura and Williamnagar town, and they are using social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to expand their network, said Jova Marak, an activist working to identify such youths for counselling.

“Some Christian youths who have renounced Satanic worship have told us that they would be called for service after midnight at the cemetery and other locations, and asked to wear black T-shirts and called by their new nicknames,” Marak said. “The parents of numerous youngsters have expressed concern about their children leaving home around midnight. Satan worship has considerably changed the demeanour and the worldview of the youth, though no criminal activity has been reported so far.”

The group has formed a forum, titled Chik Underground Cult, on Facebook and is inviting youngsters to become part of devil worship. Other such groups include Dark Star, Outlawz and ETR. The graffiti on the walls in different locality stand testimony to this practice.

A church leader, who did not wish to be quoted, described this phenomenon as an “invasion on churches in Garo hills”.