TINSUKIA: Within a week after a national-level athlete was tortured as 'witch', three other women were beaten up by villagers for allegedly practicing black magic and held responsible for outbreak of an unknown disease in Tinsukia district.
Additional Superintendent of Police Lamhao Dongol said the three women were rescued this morning after being confined illegally since last night and beaten up at a Kumsang tea garden, under Kakopathar police station area.
"After getting information, our forces reached the spot immediately and rescued the three ladies - Ratani Kadha, Mala Bhumij and Gangi Urang. They are all aged between 45 and 50 years and the villagers belong to tribes living in plantation areas," he added.
Elaborating the incident, Dongol said a 14-year-old boy, Suraj Gowala, was suffering from some unknown disease, most likely some liver infection, since last one month.
The villagers, under the influence of a 'tantrik', blamed the three ladies of practicing black-magic and held responsible for the unknown disease.
Last night, nearly 300 villagers illegally confined the women in a house, beaten them and threatened to set trio ablaze if the boy is not cured.
"The boy needed immediate medical attention and we sent him to Assam Medical College and Hospital in Dibrugarh. The three ladies are with the police at this moment for their safety," Dongol said.
After this, the villagers blocked the National Highway 52, but the police were able to clear it within 45 minutes without using any force, he added.Last week, a national level athlete was branded as'witch' and assaulted by a group of villagers in Karbi Anglong district.
Debajani Bora, gold-medal winner in javelin at several national meets, was dragged to a 'namghar' (community prayer hall), tied to a post and beaten by a group of about 15 people following alleged instigation of the 'namghar' head Radha Laskar in Cherekuli Village under Dokmoka police station.
Bora, a mother of three and wife of a farmer, was selected to represent the country at an international meet at Malaysia in 2011-12 but could not go due to financial constraints.
Dongol also said police were investigating the matter and "will take action against the culprit", but the women have not filed any FIR yet.
When asked about allegation that over 20 persons have died in the last three years due to some unknown diseases, he said: "They are illiterate. They generally do not go for any medical treatment. Whenever they fall ill, they put the blame on black-magic. It is only because of superstitions."