Dalit woman branded witch in Bihar, beaten up

March 28th, 2008 - 8:02 pm ICT by admin  

Patna, March 28 (IANS) A middle-aged Dalit woman was brutally thrashed and her hair cut off for allegedly practising witchcraft in a Bihar village, barely 20 km from the state capital, Patna, the police said Friday. The police lodged a first information report and arrested six people, including prime accused Ramayodhya Rai.

The woman, Lalpari, in her 40s, is a resident of Naubatpur village near Patna. The police said the people suspected she practised witchcraft in the neighbouring Adalchak-Dumaria village, near Maner in the outskirts of Patna.

“She was first tied to a palm tree with a rope, then thrashed and her hair was cut off and burnt in front of a crowd of villagers Thursday,” a senior police officer said.

The incident created an uproar in the state assembly Friday and an opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal legislator and a minister in the erstwhile Rabri Devi government, Shyam Razak alleged that women were not safe under the present regime.

“Women were being tortured by feudal forces,” Razak said while his party members raised anti-government slogans. The opposition demanded stern action against the guilty.

The police said Lalpari had gone to Adalchak-Dumaria village Thursday to treat a woman, Manorama Rai, who suffers from a mental illness.

As Manorama’s condition deteriorated, her husband Ramayodhya Rai lost his temper and accused Lalpari of practising sorcery and inflicting harm on his wife.

He got together some of his friends from the village and paraded Lalpari through the streets. The men tied her to a palm tree, cut off her hair and smeared her head with limestone paste.

Lalpari, however, refuted the charge of practising witchcraft and said she was a healer. When the police were informed about the incident, they rushed to the village and rescued the woman.

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