Four Elderly Women Beaten to Death Alleging Witchcraft in Jharkhand
July 22, 2019
Four women, all above 60 were dragged from their homes and beaten to death in a village in Gumla district of Jharkhand on Sunday, after being accused of witchcraft. The victims were identified as Chapa Bhagat, 62, and his wife Piri Devi, 60, and Umraav, 65, and his wife Fagani Devi, 62.
The victims were dragged out of their homes by a mob of about 10 villagers between 1 am and 3 am on Sunday who were armed with sticks. The mob proceeded to lock them up in one of the houses and thrash them on suspicion of being witches and practicing black magic. According to some reports, their throats were also slit.
It would be two hours before an alert was raised – by Damodar Singh, a social worker – and another hour before Sisai Police Station-in-charge Sudhir Prasad reached the scene. By that time the mob had dispersed and fled.
The bodies of the victims have been sent for postmortem.
“Prima facie, it appears the victims were involved in witchcraft. Crime seems to have happened because of superstitious beliefs. Investigation underway,” Police Superintendent Anjani Kumar Jha was quoted by news agency ANI.
The attack comes less than a month after a mother and daughter were similarly accused in Rowaoli village in the state’s West Singhbhum district.
In January, a Jharkhand court sentenced nine members of a family to life in prison for the 2013 murder of Lalmuni Devi, who was accused of witchcraft and beaten to death.
In August 2015, five women were killed in a village on allegations of witchcraft. State police had arrested 25 people and charged them under sections of the state’s anti-witchcraft law.
In January, six men were arrested in Sundargarh district in Odisha on suspicion of killing a woman accused of witchcraft and her four children. In December, an elderly tribal man from Tripura was hacked to death over similar allegations.
First published in Countercurrents.
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