Murder accused undergoes trial by fire to prove innocence

February 6th, 2009 - 2:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhopal, Feb 6 (IANS) Can an ‘agni pariksha’ (trial by fire) prove whether a murder accused is innocent? It can, according to the Babri Mogia community that conducted such a test on a man in the presence of police officials in Madhya Pradesh’s Mandsaur district and gave him a clean chit.The incident occurred in Sokdi village Thursday evening when 50-year-old Lal Singh Bawri, a murder accused, was forced to hold a red-hot iron bar in his hand to prove his innocence.

Lal Singh and four others were accused of killing Ghanshyam, who belonged to the same community, about a fortnight ago.

Fearing that Ghanshyam’s family members will kill him, Lal Singh approached the community elders to convince them of his innocence. The elders asked Lal Singh to undergo the trial by fire as per the custom and he agreed.

“The customary trial by fire was conducted on Lal Singh. There is no question of us punishing him as he passed the test. It may not be legally accepted but we all believe in it and have been following the practice for ages,” said Geetalal Bhati, a leader of the Babri Mogia community.

Lal Singh was asked to take a bath before the ritual. Some leaves were then tied to his palms with a cotton thread and he was made to hold the hot iron rod and walk a specified distance to prove his innocence. Seeing that his hands had no burn injuries, the council of elders absolved him of the crime he was accused of.

Bhati said policemen were present on the occasion but did not interfere. However, they later arrested Lal Singh.

“There were over a thousand villagers there. Had the cops interfered, the situation would have gone out of control,” said Pawan Singhal, officer in charge of the Piplaiya Mandi police station under whose jurisdiction the village falls.

However, Ratlam Deputy Inspector General of Police Varun Kapoor said: “We don’t have any information of such an incident. If something like this happened, an inquiry would be conducted to verify the facts.”

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