ST JOHN’S –– Police have arrested and charged two Indian men who were reportedly engaged in the illegal practice of obeah in Antigua and Barbuda.
Sandeep Gangadharaiah and Krishna Chennai Madras were taken into custody following a search at a rented property on Rowan Henry Street which they occupied. They pair was arrested “for being involved in the practising of obeah”, a police statement said.
The police also said that several pieces of evidential materials, believed to be used in the practising of obeah, were found at the property and confiscated pending further investigations into the matter.
The duo’s arrest followed a public outcry from residents who expressed fears that the presence of a self-proclaimed “Indian astrologer” and “priest” would invite “unwanted evil to the country”.
A day earlier, members of the activist group The Movement visited the business place of the Indian men and told them to “pack up and go”.
Hours before the arrest yesterday, Attorney General and Minister of Labour Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin said the two men, whose advertisements raised the ire of the Christian community and a wide cross section of the populace, had been asked to leave the state.
Benjamin said at the time that the men had been apprehended and would be sent out of the country because they had breached the terms upon which they were made to land in Antigua and Barbuda and had also breached the Obeah Act Of 1904.
“Obeah is against the laws of Antigua and Barbuda. There is an act which indicates that obeah is unlawful when practised in the state and nobody can make an application to practise an act which is unlawful,” the Benjamin told the Observer.
He said: “We do not practise black magic in Antigua and we are going to stamp that out. We are a Christian society and I want to applaud the Christian community which got together and have moved forward to stop this practice.”
The act, to which Benjamin referred, defines “obeah as ordinarily understood and practised, and includes witchcraft and working or pretending to work by spells or by professed occult or supernatural power”.