A middle-aged man and his wife were partially buried in the sand by residents of an Assam village on the suspicion of practising black magic, in the wee hours of Wednesday.
However, Dhakuakhana police said the two, who had been assaulted along with another relative, were rescued before they could be subjected to any further torture. The victims were identified as Brajen Doley (40), his wife Durgeshwari (35) and relative Amiyo Doley (32).
A local police officer said a mob whisked the three from their home at Moinaguri village in Lakhimpur district around 2 pm. After beating them, the attackers partially buried the couple in a sand pit. They were later rescued by other villagers.
“We were informed about the incident around 4 am, after which we sent a constable to verify it. However, some of the attackers refused to release the victims – saying they will deliver justice themselves,” said Hemanta Kumar Das, an officer with the local police station.
Following this, a police team accompanied by the village headman set off to rescue the victims. All the three had sustained injuries.
“According to the couple, some of the villagers claimed to have seen them collecting soil from the scene of a villager’s death. Following this, they accused them of dabbling in black magic,” said Das.
There was some confusion over the extent to which the couple was buried in the sand. “Some villagers say the couple was buried to their necks, while others claim it was only till their waists. We are conducting inquiries to verify what exactly happened,” the police officer added.
Although nobody has been arrested till now, an FIR has been lodged against the villagers concerned under various sections pertaining to voluntarily causing grievous hurt, unlawful assembly and criminal trespass.
In 2015, the Assam assembly had passed a bill stipulating stringent measures against those targeting people in the name of witch-hunting. However, it is yet to become a law.
The incident comes less than two weeks after a few residents of Kokrajhar district accused a couple of practising black magic, and hacked them to death. The bodies were then thrown into a river.