In­dia po­lice seek ar­rest of ‘quack’ for fa­tal witch hunt

The China Post - - LIFE GUIDE POST -

Po­lice in eastern In­dia were search­ing Sun­day for a woman de­scribed as a “vil­lage quack” and sus­pected of in­cit­ing the mob killing of five other women ac­cused of witch­craft.

Po­lice said the woman is thought to have stirred up an an­gry mob that lynched the five af­ter blam­ing them for re­cent deaths in Kan­jia vil­lage in Jhark­hand state, some 30 kilo­me­ters (20 miles) from the state cap­i­tal Ranchi.

“She is some vil­lage quack and now ab­scond­ing. She told the vil­lagers that these five were us­ing black magic and caus­ing deaths of chil­dren,” Ranchi deputy po­lice chief Arun Ku­mar Singh told AFP by phone.

“She abet­ted the whole thing. We are search­ing for her and will ar­rest her on the charge of mur­der.”

Ku­mar added that three more in the vil­lage had been ar­rested late Satur­day over the killings, bring­ing the to­tal num­ber de­tained to 27.

The five women were dragged out of huts by their hair and beaten to death with sticks, knives and stones at around mid­night Fri­day, af­ter be­ing ac­cused of bring­ing ill­ness and bad luck on the vil­lage through witch­craft.

Po­lice said the quack had been brain­wash­ing the vil­lagers about the women “cast­ing evil spells.” They said the fi­nal at­tack was trig­gered by the death of a sick 17-year-old boy last week.

Fam­i­lies of the vic­tims re­called how they watched help­lessly as their loved ones, mostly aged be­tween 40 and 55, were hacked and beaten to death by vil­lagers who re­port­edly chanted “Witch! Witch!”

“She wore a wig and the vil­lagers be­lieved the hair had black magic which led to a boy’s death,” Angi Oraon told the Hin­dus­tan Times news­pa­per’s web­site, re­fer­ring to her mother’s fate.

As she spoke, she cleared the shat­tered roof tiles bro­ken over her mother’s head.

An­im­iha Khalko, 25, said the mob “rushed in, pulled out my mother and beat her with ba­tons and sticks.”

“A fi­nal blow with a stone to her head and she bled to death as I watched from my room.”

Ex­perts say su­per­sti­tious belief in witch­craft and the oc­cult re­mains wide­spread in some poor and re­mote ar­eas of In­dia. Women are some­times ac­cused of be­ing witches to set­tle dis­putes or griev­ances.

In some cases women are stripped naked as pun­ish­ment, burned alive or driven from their homes and killed.

In July ma­chete-wield­ing vil­lagers in the north­east­ern state of As­sam dis­mem­bered and be­headed a 63-year-old woman af­ter ac­cus­ing her of be­ing a witch and cast­ing evil spells on her vil­lage.

Ac­cord­ing to In­dia’s Na­tional Crime Records Bureau, around 2,000 peo­ple, mostly women, were killed be­tween 2000 and 2012 on sus­pi­cion of prac­tic­ing witch­craft.

Jhark­hand ac­counted for 54 of 160 “witch hunt” mur­ders in 2013, gov­ern­ment data showed.

Some In­dian states in­clud­ing Jhark­hand have in­tro­duced spe­cial laws to try to curb such crimes.

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