The practice of branding women as witches and torturing them continues unabated in rural Rajasthan even though the state government is coming up with a stringent law – the Rajasthan Women (Prevention and Protection from Atrocities) Bill, 2011.
In the latest incident, Narangi Devi, 33, a resident of Rani village, was branded witch and made to lie on burning embers while tantrik Usha Meena placed hot embers on her body at Keshav Nagar of Pali district, nearly 296 kms southwest of Jaipur. The incident took place on Friday night even as the victim’s husband, Chunni Lal, and other relatives looked on.
Lal told the police that he did not have a child even after 15 years of marriage. So, his elder brother Pukharam Meghwal took him to the tantrik. The tantrik told them that the spirit of a dayan (witch) had entered Devi’s body, for which she prescribed a trial by fire, which was performed at Meghwal's house, said Pali district police chief, Ajaypal Lamba.
The police rescued the victim and admitted her to a hospital. She had suffered nearly 80% burns on her face, stomach and other body parts, said Lamba. The police have arrested Lal, Meghwal and his wife, and Meena on charges of torturing Narangi.
Earlier on July 4, a woman, 35, was branded witch and ostracized by villagers in Dowada village of Dungarpur district. In the last week of May, a woman, 30, was also branded witch and tortured in Padardi Mewada village of the same district.
The police have registered only 25 cases in the past five years though the number of such instances is much higher.