RAIPUR: A woman was killed in India on suspicion of being a ‘tonhi’ – a woman involved in witchcraft practices – in Uparwara village of Naya Raipur on Wednesday.
Local police arrested four people, all who were the woman’s immediate relatives. The case is similar to one of Balrampur, India where a woman was killed by her neighbors when their relatives suffered from a prolonged disease.
The deceased, Dulari Bai, 52, was the wife of a local farmer, Hariram Sahu. The couple didn’t have children. Her husband’s brother, Mehattar, and his family had always accused her of being a witch and beat her frequently because of it.
Things turned worse recently when Mehattar’s daughter-in-law fell sick and murmured Dulari’s name in an unconscious state, which enraged all of the family members. They suspected that Dulari was working spells on the woman to make her sick. Then early on Wednesday, Mehattar, with his wife Rajwanti, son Madan and another person named Manoj, went to Dulari’s house with traditional weapons and beat her to death.
Police acted swiftly and arrested all four of the accused under sections 302, 34 of the IPC while, after further investigations, the case would be registered under relevant sections of the Witchcraft Prevention Act 2005, police said.
“The psychology behind such extreme steps is usually to end the cause, as just a suspicion on someone would not serve the purpose and villagers’ problems would remain intact. Hence, without giving second thoughts, they either humiliate, assault or kill women under suspicion,” said Dr Dinesh Mishra, who is working against superstition and black magic.
He said that it was high time for the administration to take a call. “Acting against accused and working according to prevention Act is fine, but there’s an urgent need to make people aware about how innocents are being killed over groundless issues,” he said.
However, when contacted, the state commission for women told the Times of India that the commission was working without a chairperson, as the former serving Vibha Rao’s tenure ended in December and no other official preferred to comment.
Talking to the Times of India, Subrat Sahu, secretary of the department of women and children, said that cases of assault had come down. “Consistent awareness programs are going on in affected areas which need to be intensified. We would call for registered cases and after conducting surveys, would act swiftly against the issue.”
Chhattisgarh witnesses say frequent cases of assault on women over witchcraft practices often go unreported. This is a third major case reported in last 15 days in the state.