Women continues to be labelled as witches in Rajasthan even as the government is yet to act on a draft bill to check the practice. In the second such incident of witch hunting in a month, a 45-year-old woman was beaten till she fell unconscious.
Some people in Kasarwadi village in Banswara district, over 600 km from Jaipur, held Vensa, the wife of villager Deva Dangi, responsible for the illness of a child and beat her on Friday.
"We were informed about the incident by the family members of the women. We are looking into it," a senior police official from Dungra police station told the agency on telephone. The woman has been admitted in a local hospital.
This is the second such incident reported this month from the desert state.
In March itself, three women were branded as witches and forced to leave their village in Dungarpur district, over 520 km from Jaipur.
Reports said villagers held the three married women - Hero, Nathi and Sawal, responsible for the death of some children and livestock in the area, called them witches and forced them to leave the Selaj Lolakpura village.
The incident came to light only after these women complained about it to the superintendent of police and sought protection from the police.
In a bid to check the practice of branding women as witches, the state women's commission prepared a draft bill and sent it to the government.
"In many parts of the state, women who exhibit abnormal behaviour are often called witches and maltreated by society. It often results in torture, leading to suicide. In order to prevent the inhuman practice, we have come out with a draft bill," a member of the commission said.
According to the draft bill, titled Rajasthan Prevention of Witch (Dain) Practices Bill, it will be considered a crime if any person or community intentionally or inadvertently abets, conspires, aids and instigates identification of a woman as a witch leading to her mental and physical torture and humiliation.
The draft bill advocates severe punishment for the guilty. If a woman commits suicide after being called a witch, then the accused will be given a prison sentence of not less than five years, which can be extended to 10 years. They can also be fined.
However, the draft bill was sent to the state government over a year ago but it is yet to see the light of day.