Gujarat: Tribal woman set on fire over 'witchcraft'

Tribal woman set on fire on suspicion of witchcraft in Gujarat

All three accused arrested, victim suffered nearly 50 to 60% burns

Representative image. Credit: iStock.

A migrant tribal woman worker was allegedly set on fire on suspicion of practising witchcraft in front of her husband and other close relatives in a Rajkot village.

The police said all three accused have been arrested, while the victim is recuperating at a hospital and her condition is said to be stable.

The police said the victim, in her early 20s, works as a casual labourer with her husband at the farm owned by one Bharat Rupalia, located at the border of Virnagar village, Jasdan taluk. About two months ago, the couple was called to work as labourers by one of the accused Mukesh Katara, who happens to be the brother of the victim.

At the farm, the couple joined several other close relatives who worked as casual labourers and lived in a temporary settlement together.

The couple belongs to Santrampur taluk of Mahisagar district.

According to the FIR, on November 18 around 9 pm, Mukesh's brother Nilesh came waving his arms, sat beside the victim and said his "power as Bhuva (witch doctor) was snatched by the woman" and if he didn't take it back, she would finish off everyone.

The FIR said the victim was punched in her face several times and later the accused lit residue of maize and threw them at her. "The victim is under treatment and her condition is stable. She has suffered nearly 50 to 60% burns. We have arrested all the accused in the case," Balram Meena, Superintendent of Police, Rajkot district, told DH.

Highlighting the incident, labour rights organisation Majur Adhikar Manch, in a press note, said the victim's husband was forcefully shut inside the house when the incident happened. The organisation has demanded a separate law in the state to address incidents like this.

It said such cases are prevalent in rural areas but the state doesn't have special laws for such offences unlike Bihar, Rajasthan, Karnataka, among other states, and demanded the government to ensure the safety of migrant women workers at such remote places.