A group of rationalists of Indian origin here has renewed its offer of 16,000 pounds to any occult practitioner or spiritual healer who can scientifically prove the ability to cure people of any disease or solve any problem.
Newspapers catering to Asian and Afro-Caribbean readerships have several pages of advertisements from such practitioners, promising magical cures and manna to those who believe in spells and occult practices.
Lavkesh Prashar, president of the Asian Rationalist Society of Britain (ARSB), said such witch doctors and charlatans were exploiting superstitious and gullible people from these communities and earning thousands of pounds every year.
Prasher said: "We challenge them to prove that they have magical powers under scientific conditions.
They charge anything up to 300 pounds for a simple chat and claim they can cure anything from serious illness to bad luck."
The call was renewed at a recent meeting of the ARSB in Birmingham as part of the society's efforts to educate the people about the "so-called gurus and babas and tantriks who are exploiting the innocent people mentally, financially and sometimes physically as well".
Prashar said: "If these babas and gurus have any magical or supernatural power then why not they accept our challenge? Why do they back off when we challenge them?"
The main speaker at the meeting was Harinder Lally, an Indian advocate, who is associated with the Taraksheel Society Punjab. Lally recalled with examples how astrologers and palm readers tricked people.
The meeting was also addressed by Britain-based brain specialist RS Dyall, who exhorted the people to approach doctors with health problems rather than babas, gurus and other charlatans who claim to have a magical power to cure health and mental problems.