GUWAHATI – Nine people, including three women, were arrested by the Assam police for lynching two persons including a woman on suspicion of “witch-craft”, police said on Friday.
Superintendent of Police Debojit Deuri said that two persons, including a woman, were hacked to death, beheaded and set afire by a mob over suspicion of practising witch-craft (black magic) in Central Assam’s Karbi Anglong district.
“On suspicion of witch-craft a mob lynched Ramawati Halua, 50 and Bijoy Gour, 45, following the death of a teenage girl in Rohimapur village under Dokmoka police station area earlier this week,” the district police chief told the media.
After the death of the teenage girl in Rohimapur, another girl in the same village also accused the duo of performing ‘black magic’ on her, leading to her falling sick.
According to the police, after the illness of the second girl, the agitated villagers killed the duo and took their bodies to a nearby hill before beheading the bodies near a burial site and setting them afire.
Police continued their search to nab the remaining accused involved in the murder, which took place on the intervening night of Wednesday and Thursday.
The Rohimapur village is dominated by the Adivasi (or tea tribe).
Witchcraft (black magic), an unscientific social belief, claims a dozen lives in Assam’s tea belt and tribal areas every year on an average.
The killings have not stopped despite mass awareness campaigns by the state government and various NGOs.
In 2017, the Gauhati High Court had observed that branding a person as a witch and then resorting to witch-hunting is a dehumanising act and one of the worst forms of human rights violations.
It was under the same Dokmoka police station where two youth were hacked to death by an angry mob after it suspected them of being child-lifters in 2018.
Since 2018, the Assam Witch Hunting (Prohibition, Prevention and Protection) Act, 2015, has been in force.According to the act, witch-hunting is a cognisable, non-bailable and non-compoundable offence and it provide jail term up to life imprisonment.
The Assam government informed the state legislative assembly last year that in 18 years, as many as 161 people has been murdered in the state in cases of witch-hunting.