Couple blinded for alleged witchcraft

The couple, who were first admitted to a local hospital, had been rushed to a government hospital in Raipur where doctors said they would probably lose sight as the eyes had been deeply penetrated.

The attack took place Friday at Khaira village in Raipur district, some 125 km from here, police said. According to inspector S.S. Baghel, who heads the Kasdol police station, the attack was carried out by members of a family who blamed the woman, Shayam Kunwar, for their economic and health woes.

"They alleged that the woman was practicing witchcraft, which had led to their problems. They raided her house Friday morning, beat her up and thrust a scissor in her eyes," Baghel told IANS.

"When her husband Mansharam Banjare tried to stop them and protect her, they treated him the same way," he added. One of the attackers has escaped and is on the run.

Police say that incident has shocked the village housing 40 poor families. The villagers have been refusing to say anything to police on record about the incident though a youth claimed that the couple were subjected to physical torture for months in the name of witchcraft.

Some of the 11 accused were reported to be relatives of the couple. "This is outrageous. Police must ensure that the guilty are stringently punished," a Congress leader said.
State Women's Commission chairman Vibha Rao termed the attack "very shameful and disturbing".

Attacks against women for alleged witchcraft have been a persistent problem in Chhattisgarh's interior villages. The state assembly passed the Witchcraft (Prevention) Act in 2005 with stringent provisions of punishment for offenders.

But the act has hardly made any impact in tribal areas where atrocities against women in name of witchcraft still continue and majority of the cases remain unreported.

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