Sixteen Arrested for Beheading Woman 'Witch' in Assam
Witch-hunt is still prevalent in Eastern part of country
NEW DELHI: Police arrested nine more on Tuesday in the case of a brutal lynching of 63 year old Purni Orang living in Sonitpur district in Assam. The woman was beaten before her body was hacked into pieces by the villagers, who accused her of ‘witchcraft’.
“Today (Tuesday), we arrested nine women from the village. We are keeping a watch on the area and more persons may be arrested. We have deployed enough personnel to keep the situation under control," Biswanath Chariali SP Manabendra Dev Roy told TOI.
The state police had arrested seven villagers on the same day the crime was committed. The arrests were followed by the storming in of the police station by a mob of villagers, mostly women, who argued that they have done nothing wrong and the arrested ones be set free at once.
"We have not done anything wrong by killing the old lady. We demand that the men and women who have been arrested be freed at the earliest. Police have nothing to do with this case. Let us solve our own problem," said a villager to a media channel during a protest.
Purni is survived by five children and her husband, who tried to save her from the lynching mob. He said his wife was an “innocent woman” and the villagers were coaxed in believing that she was a witch by the village priest.
It was Anima Ronghangpi who proclaimed Purni to be a “witch” following which she dragged her out of her house by hair and started beating her. She was then beheaded.
According to a report more than 130 women have been lynched in the same manner since 2002 in Assam alone. Bihar, Maharashtra, and Orissa are other states which face the issue and have devised legislation to tackle it.
In the month of May this year Assam Government too proposed a draft of a Bill titled ‘Prevention and Protection from Witch Hunting Bill, 2015’. One of the proposals in the Bill demanded punishment from three years up to life imprisonment. The Bill is still in progress.