Neighbours beat to death a 65-year-old woman in full public for practising witchcraft in Madhya Pradesh’s Sidhi district, police said on Tuesday.
To add to the woes of the family, Puniya’s relatives had to carry her body on a cot, tied to a bamboo pole, for want of a vehicle at the Majhauli government hospital.
This is second such incident in Sidhi district in a week.
On September 26, a man had to walk 3km carrying the body of his 105-year-old father Siyawar Bansal in a sack, tied to a bamboo pole, first from village to hospital for post-mortem and then back to the village for cremation.
Sidhi superintendent of police Abid Khan said Puniya, a native of Tala village in Majhauli area, was working in an agricultural plot around 12.30pm on Monday when two of her neighbours — Lalla Vaish and Munna Vaish (both brothers) — thrashed her brutally with rods.
The two siblings accused Puniya of practising witchcraft and held her responsible for frequent illness of their family members.
The elderly woman fell unconscious before the villagers, who later informed her son Lakhpati. She was rushed to Majhauli hospital where she died during the course of treatment, five hours later.
The Sidhi SP said both the accused were first booked for assault and criminal intimidation. But after the woman’s death, the duo was also booked for murder.
The accused were arrested from Sidhi and Shahdol districts on Monday, Khan told Hindustan Times.
The real ignominy for the bereaved family came when they had to shoulder Puniya’s body on a cot tied to a bamboo pole after post mortem on Tuesday, from the Majhauli hospital to Tala village.
Sidhi chief medical and health officer Dr RK Dixit said there was only one mortuary vehicle available in the district and that too at the Sidhi district hospital.
Since it was a murder case, it was the responsibility of the police to arrange a vehicle to help the woman’s kin take the body for cremation, the health officer said.
But the Sidhi police officials said the onus of arranging the vehicle was on the health department.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) Crime in India 2015 statistics, Madhya Pradesh with 20 murders in 2015, ranked third in the country after Jharkhand and Odisha, when it came to killing of individuals after being branded as witch
In Sidhi’s Madwas area, 24-year-old woman Parwati Bai was allegedly murdered by her father-in-law Babulal Singh Gond in April 2016 after being accused of practising witchcraft. In August 2016, a middle-aged couple was murdered and their body dumped in a river by a neighbour, who accused them of practising witchcraft that made their father ill in Balaghat district.
A few days later in Seoni district, a middle-aged tribal was beaten in full public view and forced to consume urine in a shoe before a tribal panchayat that accused him of practising witchcraft, which was responsible for a neighbour’s illness.