Chhattisgarh police arrest 22 for assaulting 50 women

December 23rd, 2008 - 2:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Raipur, Dec 23 (IANS) Twenty two men have been arrested in Chhattisgarh for assaulting about 50 women and branding them witches, a senior official said Tuesday. According to reports, a nine day “purification ceremony” was organised by about 200 villagers on the advice of a local leader at Dhodhakesra village in Surguja district, about 400 km north of Raipur.

During the “ceremony”, about 50 women were branded witches and they were forced to get a haircut “to free them from impact of evil spirits”. The women were also beaten in public. The “ceremony” ended Dec 19.

“Police will not tolerate such an act; 22 men have been arrested under the stringent Chhattisgarh Witchcraft (Prevention) Act that makes crimes against women in name of witches a non-bailable offence,” senior police officer Radheshyam Nayak told IANS.

He said the probe is on and villagers are being interrogated, adding that more arrests are likely.

Chief Minister Raman Singh has taken a serious view of the incident and termed it “most inhuman, unfortunate and shameful”. He has asked police chief Vishwaranjan to thoroughly investigate the case and ensure tough punishment to culprits.

With a rising number of cases against women in the name of witchcraft, the state government enacted a Witchcraft (Prevention) Act in 2005. Those convicted under the act can be jailed for upto five years.

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