An Assam minister allegedly branded two girls – his neighbours – as witches to grab their land in central Assam’s Karbi Anglong district.
Veterinary and hills area development minister Khorsing Engti brushed away the allegation as baseless and politically motivated. He also hinted at mischief ahead of the Assembly elections.
“The harassment started on October 30 last year. We were rescued by patrolling CRPF personnel once, but the physical and mental torture from the minister’s men continued. They have branded us witches and accused us of hiding skeletons and bones in our house to practice black magic,” said Radhika Sah here Tuesday evening.
Radhika, 18, and Gayatri, daughters of Ramchandra Sah, are residents of Pan-Engtigaon near Howraghat town, 250 km southeast of Guwahati. Their 3.12 kathas of land adjoin Engti’s estate.
The duo also accused the minister’s lackeys of taking away valuables worth Rs 11.5 lakh. “We lodged an FIR at the Howraghat police station. On January 5, we wrote to the IGP concerned seeking security,” said Radhika.
The local authorities, she added, were indifferent to their pleas unlike two NGOs named Nari Mukti Sangram Samiti and Nirjatan Birodhi Aikya Mancha that “gave us the strength to resist the oppression”.
Engti, also battling charges in a major hill tribal council scam, said pressure groups could have made the Sahs target him rather than the neighbours they have a problem with. “Everyone in the village knows how some local people have been targeting them for allegedly practicing witchcraft. No one can deny that I saved them on a few occasions,” he claimed.