GUWAHATI: An Adivasi (tea-tribe) couple was beaten to death in an Assam village in the wee hours of Wednesday on suspicion that they practiced black magic. Police have arrested 31 people, including 17 women, who were later remanded to judicial custody by a court.
The incident occurred at Hahchara village in Doomdooma in Tinsukia district. The victims were identified as Dilip Kisan and his wife Sibaratri Karmakar.
“The accused had swooped down on the victims’ house and tortured them for a while before beating them to death,” Tinsukia superintendent of police, Mugdhajyoti Mahanta, told the New Indian Express.
He said Kisan, who retired as a tea garden labourer, would often proclaim before locals that he was a witch.
“As he often claimed he was a witch and threatened to do this and that, the locals used to suspect his hand every time a person in the village suffered from a disease, be it a stomachache, headache or toothache,” Mahanta said.
Kisan (55), it was learnt, was suffering from Parkinson’s disease, Mahanta said. He added that district authorities had earlier organised an awareness campaign on witch-hunting in the village where most people are illiterate.
Witch-hunting, a social malaise, claims scores of lives in Assam’s tea belt and tribal areas every year. The killings have not stopped despite mass awareness campaigns by the state government and various NGOs.