Man accused of witchcraft beaten to death in Chandigarh; 26 held

Man accused of witchcraft beaten to death in Chandigarh; 26 held

Man accused of witchcraft beaten to death in Chandigarh; 26 held
A 55-year-old man was allegedly stoned and beaten to death by villagers in Chhattisgarh's tribal-dominated Bastar district on the suspicion that he practised witchcraft, police said today.

The incident took place on May 28 in Karka village under Darbha police station area and 26 people were arrested yesterday in connection with the case, Station House Officer (SHO) Darbha Vivek V K told PTI.

The victim, identified as Budhuram Naag, was allegedly killed by over two dozen villagers, who accused him of practising black magic and blamed him for a series of misfortunes in the village.

Naag, who belonged to Dhurva tribe, was the pujari (priest) of the village. He also acted as a 'baiga' (witch doctor), who used to cure people using traditional practices, he said.

A group of villagers had earlier warned the victim of dire consequences if he did not quit his practices. However, Naag continued to do it.

On May 28, the villagers held a meeting in the village, where they sought to remove Naag from the post of 'pujari' holding him responsible for the deaths and other troubles in the village, he said.

An argument broke out between Naag and the villagers during the meeting, which turned into an altercation.

Nearly 30 villagers, including Budhram (45)- the husband of the sarpanch (village head), attacked him with stones, sticks and rods that left him critically injured, the SHO said.

Naag's two daughters, Parvati and Raimati, escaped from the spot fearing that they would also be attacked by the villagers, he said.

"The victim succumbed to his injuries next day while undergoing treatment at a local hospital, following which his daughter Parvati lodged a complaint," the officer added.

Based on the complaint, a case was registered against 29 accused under section 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object), 302 (murder) and under sections 4 and 5 of the Chhattisgarh Witchcraft Atrocities (Prevention) Act 2005 in this regard, he said.

"Of them, 26 were arrested and efforts are on to trace three others," the SHO said adding that further probe was on.

Meanwhile, chairperson of the Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti, an anti-superstition body, Dr Dinesh Mishra advocated the need to provide proper education and health facilities in backward areas to prevent such incidents.

"Such incidents were also reported in Darbha region of Bastar in the past. Superstitious beliefs are more prevalent in the tribal-dominated pockets of the state due to the absence of proper health services and education facilities," Dr Mishra told PTI.

"To convince the people not to fall for such unscientific beliefs that diseases caused by 'black magic', there is a need to conduct regular health camps as well as awareness camps in these areas," he said.