The men, all members of a neighborhood watch group in Bidara Cina subdistrict in Jatinegara, East Jakarta, reportedly doused their hands with acid to test their physical immunity. Now one is dead and the other five are hospitalized with severe burns on their hands.
Physical immunity tests are commonly part of initiation rites often part of the ilmu hitam group’s initiation program for new members. Detectives are investigating whether anyone else was involved in the incident.
Sociologist Otho Hernowo Hadi, at the University of Indonesia, believes people are turning to ilmu hitam in an attempt to defend their neighbourhoods from crime after feeling let down by the police.