Disclaimer: Satna Municipal Corporation doesn't really have a department of superstition but the near-institutionalized system of warding off evil spirits makes it resemble so. The funny thing is that despite the havan and the foolproof protection of nimboo-mirch, sources say a small fire broke out soon after the rituals ended. Maybe that will call for another hawan.

BHOPAL: The Satna Municipal Corporation's department of superstition is having a great time. After locking up an office due to the serious crime of not adhering to vaastu rules, the office held a yajna inside the civic HQ on Saturday to protect it from 'buri nazar' (evil eye). All under the watchful eyes of mayor Mamta Pandey. 


Mayor Pandey left for Chitrakoot soon after the rituals and couldn't be reached for her comments. But on July 1, after locking up the vaastu-offender room, she had told TOI: "Jab se smart city mey naam aaaya hai najar lag gayee hai agal bagal ki. Mai iske liye pooja karwaungi (Soon after the town's name figured on the list of smart cities, an evil eye was cast from all sides. I will get rituals performed to ward it off)." 

The troubles that Pandey refers to include the June 26 arrest of Satna municipal commissioner Surendra Kathuria for allegedly demanding a bribe of Rs 12 lakh in cash and gold from a doctor couple. This happened two days after Satna was included on the Smart City list. On June 27, more cash was seized from Kathuria's office. And on June 28, sanitation workers had a spat with the doctor couple, who had complained against the commissioner. They alleged that the doctors had abused them and went on strike on June 28, demanding an FIR against the doctor. 

The mayor had enough. The buri nazar had to be cast out. After locating an office that violated vaastu principles, she had it locked on July 2 and ordered 'nimboo mirch' to be hanged over the gates of the building. That evidently wasn't enough, necessitating a hawan on Saturday. Five priests conducted the 'hawan' in the presence of the mayor and senior officials of the civic body. It took two hours and ended at 9.30am, say sources. 

Sources, however, say that within hours of the hawan, a minor fire broke out. In the office of the arrested civic commissioner.