Assam sexagenarian vows to save witch-hunt victimsMay 19th, 2012 - 6:20 pm ICT by IANS
Guwahati, May 19 (IANS) A 60-year-old lady in Assam has launched a novel mission - not only to find out the victims of witch hunting but also to keep an eye on all such evil practices in Assam.
Birobala Rabha, who is also a victim of witch hunting, has launched the mission in two districts of Assam at present - Goalpara and Kamrup, but plans to extend the project to all the districts of the state in the future.
“We were actually supposed to start the project from January this year. However, it got delayed due to some problems and we have started the project from mid-April,” she said.
“Our basic objective is to find out women and children who have suffered due to the existing social evils in Assam and to put in an effort to rehabilitate them properly so that they can lead a dignified life in society,” said Rabha.
The problem of witch hunting in Assam was so serious that the state police had launched ‘Project Prahari’ to check the killing of innocent people on allegations of practicing witchcraft.
As per the official records, over 120 cases of witch hunting have been registered at various police stations in the state since 2001 and it is believed that over 500 people were killed in the name of ‘witch hunting’ in the last ten years. However, a majority of the cases are not even reported due to lack of awareness.
“We are going to keep our members in all the interior places of the districts, who will keep an eye on all social evils. If he or she is informed about any incident of witch hunting or dowry or alcoholism, or any other sort of social evil, our members will first try to convince the wrong-doers. If our efforts fail, we will stop this with the help of police and district administration,” said Usha Rabha, an associate of Birobala Rabha.Rabha said.
“We have already tied up with the police and district administration and they have assured us all possible help,” she added.
“In our struggle we have learnt that most of the time women are branded as witches for various reasons. Vices like alcoholism, land feuds are the reasons behind branding somebody a ‘witch’,” she said. In most cases, single women or widows are often framed as witches by powerful factions in village to grab property, she noted.
Birobala was branded a ‘witch’ by her fellow villagers after she refused to accept that her baby boy was possessed with evil powers. Believing that her son was only ill and not possessed, Birobala went to a doctor and got him treated. The villagers charged her with practicing witchcraft and unleashed inhuman torture on her and the family. She was even forced to leave her village.
“There are still some people who do not want us to succeed. We have received threats from them, but we are not scared of those. At present, we have 25 women in our team - some of them are former ‘witches’,” said Usha.
“There are some women with us who were branded as witches in the past and they are living with us. They have not been to their homes for ages. We are also trying to send them back to their families after convincing their family members that they were not ‘witches’ but normal people,” she said.
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Tags: alcoholism, allegations, assam, district administration, dowry, goalpara, last ten years, novel, objective, old lady, police stations, practicing witchcraft, sexagenarian, social evil, social evils, state police, usha, witch hunt, witch hunting, wrong doers