8 arrested for lynching tribals 'practising witchcraft'

8 arrested for lynching tribals 'practising witchcraft'

(Photo for representation)

Eight people were arrested on Monday for allegedly lynching four elderly tribals, including two women, in Jharkhand's Gumla district on the suspicion that they were practising witchcraft, police said.

The arrested were among a group of people which had allegedly dragged the four elderly persons out of their homes at Nagar-Siskari village and beat them to death with sticks on the intervening night of Saturday and Sunday, a release by the police said.

The arrested included two village priests. Blood-soaked sticks suspected to have been used in the crime have been seized, it said.

District Superintendent of Police Anjani Kumar Jha said the deceased have been identified as Suna Oraon (65), Champa Oraine (79), Faguni Devi (60) and Piri Oraine (74).

The accused have been booked under relevant sections of the IPC and Anti-witchcraft Act, 2001, the SP said.

Earlier in the day, police had detained 10 people in connection with the lynching, which took place after a man died in the tribal village due to ailments about a week ago.

"Some miscreants spread the rumour that the man's death was caused due to alleged witchcraft by Suna Oraon," the police release said, adding it was also rumoured that the four elderly persons had "cast a spell" on the village because of which "screams by spirits" were heard in the night.

The statement said two village priests had called a meeting of villagers in which the allegations of 'witchcraft' against the four tribals were discussed.

It was also alleged in the meeting that the four had drawn the wrath of the gods on the village by having a ram graze near the shrine of the village goddess, it said.

The police have set up a picket in the village to maintain peace, the SP said.