A mob of fourteen people, including nine women, were arrested on Sunday for allegedly burning a 45-year-old woman alive at her home after declaring her a witch in Bihar’s Gaya district in India, on Saturday, police said.
According to police, the deceased, identified as Rita Devi, belongs to the scheduled caste (SC) and was married to one Arjun Das.
“A case under sections 302 and 436 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and provisions of the Witchcraft Act has been lodged. Raids are going on to arrest others (from the mob) who are absconding,” said superintendent of police (SSP) Harpreet Kaur.
Sharing further details, police said that a month ago, a man, identified as Parmeshwar Bhuiyan of Pachmah village, died after a prolonged illness.
The family of the deceased, however, accused Rita Devi of witchcraft, after which both families were at loggerheads. This led to the mob taking the law into their own hands.
“On Saturday, Parmeshwar’s family invited an exorcist from Jharkhand and a panchayat was called in the afternoon. Seeing the possibility of a violent clash, the exorcist fled the scene.
Mob burns woman with petrol
“Soon, family members and supporters of the Bhuiyan community attacked the house of the deceased. While the male members fled into the forest, the women locked her inside the home. The mob allegedly broke open the room and thrashed the woman till she fell unconscious.
“They sprinkled petrol and set the house on fire and the woman was charred to death,” the SSP said, adding that the body has been sent for an autopsy.
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Witchcraft-related beliefs and practises have resulted in serious violations of human rights in numerous countries around the world, including beatings, exile, amputation of limbs, torture, and murder. Often, judicial systems do not take action to prevent, investigate, or prosecute human rights violations associated with witchcraft beliefs. Impunity is perpetuated by this institutional failure.