RANCHI: Villagers dragged out four people, including two women, out of their home at a village in Jharkhand’s Gumla district and lynched them on the suspicion of practicing ‘witchcraft’.
Armed with traditional weapons, the angry villagers targeted Suna Oraon, Phagani, Chapa Bhagat and his wife Piri Devi in the dead of Saturday night at Piskari village under the Sisai police station.
“All the four who were killed were suspected to be involved in witchcraft, which possibly triggered the dispute leading to their killing. Prima facie it appears to be a case of witch-hunting,” said Ranchi range DIG A Homkar.
Some suspects were detained for interrogation. The Gumla SP is at the village and providing security to families of the victims, Homkar said.
According to victim’s family members, Suna Oraon was first awakened, then they called out Fagni Devi, Chapa Bhagat and Piri Devi. The men took all the four to ‘Akhra’ (meeting place) of the village and beat them to death, they claimed.
According to the daughter of Suna Oraon, her father was dragged from the house by some masked persons armed with sticks. “They locked us inside the house after taking my father with them. Later, we somehow traced his dead body at the Akhra,” recounted Sumati Kumari. But, she said, that she did not recognise the attackers as they had fully covered their faces.
With a significant section of its population being tribals, witch hunting is a major social problem in Jharkhand. Awareness campaigns have not brought desired results, so far.