GUWAHATI: There is no let-up in the incidents of witch-hunting in Assam despite the enactment of the Assam Witch Hunting (Prohibition, Prevention and Protection) Act, 2015 which views witch-hunting as a cognisable, non-bailable, and non-compoundable offence.
In a suspected case of witch-hunting, a 53-year-old widow was bludgeoned to death by a group of miscreants at No 1 Geruajuli area of Rangapara in Northern Assam’s Sonitpur district.
The assailants had barged into the house of the victim, Laksheswari Daimary, on Saturday night and beaten her to death. Later, they carried the body to a forest 1 km away and buried it. She was a mother of four children.
The incident came to light on Sunday after the neighbours rescued the woman’s grandson Mohit Daimary. His hands and legs were found tied. On being informed by the locals, the police conducted a search and exhumed the body. Later, it was sent for autopsy.
The locals said the miscreants killed the woman after suspecting her to be practising witchcraft. They said she was harassed in the past by some people after getting driven by superstitious beliefs. They demanded the arrest of the perpetrators of the crime and exemplary punishment for them.
Witch-hunting, a social malaise, is common in parts of the Northeast. In Assam, it, on average, claims a dozen lives in the tea belt and tribal areas every year. The killings have not stopped despite mass awareness campaigns by the authorities besides various NGOs and individuals.
In 2017, the Gauhati High Court observed that branding a person as a witch and then resorting to witch-hunting was a dehumanising act and one of the worst forms of human rights violations. The court had observed that the menace had to be confronted at multiple levels.