Five women were paraded naked and beaten up on Sunday by villagers on suspicion of being witches in Deoghar district, about 350 km north-east of Ranchi.
Three of the five women are widows.
The women were beaten up so severely that they were seen writhing in pain. The face of one was burnt with incense sticks. The Palajori block development officer and officer-in-charge of the local police station got wind of the incident and reached the village with the police.
They rescued the women from the crowd and brought them to the police station.
Sushila Kumharin, Sagiran Bee, Hafijan Bee, Sujan Bee, and Gulnar Bee — the women who were beaten up – belonged to Pathalghatia village, where the incident took place.
It is not known which three were widows among them.
According to reports, a witch doctor instigated the villagers to thrash the women.
A witch doctor is meant to exorcise evil spirits.
Villagers first beat up the women in the morning. Subsequently, they misbehaved with them for an hour and dragged them out naked, abusing and thrashing them relentlessly.
The villagers were pressing these women to confess that they practised witchcraft.
The police, later, recorded the statements of the victims in which they named the culprits.
According to reports reaching here, four women were also involved in the five women getting beaten up.