Murder case decided through 'agnipariksha'

Panchayat asks accused to hold hot iron rod to prove innocence

It was a justiceby fire, quite literally. Accused, charged with murder, was asked to walk a few steps carrying a red hot iron rod in his hand in full public view. It was decided that he would be declared innocent if he did not receive any burn injuries and would be considered guilty otherwise.

This primitive administration of justice took place  Mau district on Tuesday night at a mahapanchayat of the nomadic Nat tribe.

According to reports, a member of the tribe Jamaluddin had allegedly killed another tribe member following an altercation during gambling a few days back at Kuttubpur.

Though no one had seen Jamaluddin perpetrating the crime, family members of the deceased alleged that he was the killer and sought justice from the elders of the tribe.

After deliberating on the matter, the elders decided to convene a mahapanchayat in which elders of the tribe where invited from nearby districts. A team of 13 elders was formed to discuss the matter.

Hundreds of tribesmen assembled at an open place near the village to witness the proceedings. The accused and the family of the victim were also present there, sources said.

After discussion, the team told Jamaluddin that he would have to undergo an agnipariksha to prove innocence.

He was asked to walk with a hot iron rod in his hand. If he was unhurt he would be declared innocent or else he would be considered the killer and would have to pay a compensation of Rs 1 lakh to the deceased’s family. Jamaluddin reportedly agreed.

He walked with the iron rod as instructed, and as expected suffered severe burn injuries. He was pronounced guilty and had to pay the compensation.

The station house in-charge, Bachha Paswan said police had received reports about the mahapanchayat but the meeting had ended by the time they reached the spot. He added that no one had lodged a report in this regard.

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