Family charged with practising witchcraft lynched in Assam

October 18th, 2008 - 7:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Guwahati, Oct 18 (IANS) Three members of a family in India’s northeastern state of Assam were killed Saturday by people who charged them with practising witchcraft, the police said. The incident took place at Balipara, a town in the northern Sonitpur district, 230 km from Assam’s main city Guwahati.

“We have arrested the main accused and his accomplice who appear to have targeted the family for allegedly casting evil spells on his father and sister who died during a year’s time,” a police official said requesting anonymity.

Santa Santhal, 40, his wife Kiron, 30, and ten-year-old son Bilu were attacked with sharp weapons. “Kiron and Bilu died on the spot while Santhal succumbed to his injuries at a local hospital,” the official added.

The police said main accused Umesh suspected the involvement of Santhal and his family in practising witchcraft on his father and sister which lead to their death. Umesh lost his father last week and a sister last year.

At least 200 people were killed by mobs in the northeastern region over the past five years for practising witchcraft.

The authorities have been running a project called Prahari (Vigilant), aimed at regular awareness campaigns among tribal chiefs and village elders against the practice of branding people as witches and lynching them. The police campaign is also now focusing on educating villagers.

“We need to bring about a change in attitude rather than trying to enforce the law. We have to create awareness about this social evil to stop such barbaric incidents from taking place,” Assam Inspector General of Police Kula Saikia told IANS.

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