Police recovered the body of a 65-year-old woman, who was beaten to death after being branded as a witch at Bohanda village in Khunti district, on Saturday night.
Though Mangri Mudain was murdered on Thursday evening, her relatives did not inform the authorities about the incident.
Police said four people – identified as Gangu Munda, Soma Munda, Shanik Munda and Bhadwa Munda – allegedly entered the house of Mudain’s son-in-law Som Munda and started beating her with a lathi. When Som tried to intervene, they threatened to assault him as well. The accused then took the woman to an isolated spot 100 yards away and allegedly murdered her.
Gangu reportedly claimed that Mudain was a witch, and was responsible for his wife’s illness. A local exorcist called Sukhram Munda was said to have instigated him against the elderly woman.
Ironically, Mudain had moved into Som’s house after her husband – Aachu Munda – was also killed for allegedly practising witchcraft.
According to sources, local residents tried to hush up the incident by making the accused pay Rs 9 lakh as compensation to Mudain’s relatives. “The report regarding the compensation is yet to be verified. We seized the body on a tip-off just as the residents were going to dispose of it,” said Bhagwan Prasad Jha, officer-in-charge of Arki police station.
All the five have surrendered, police officials said late on Friday.
Incidents of witch-hunting continue to occur in Jharkhand despite a statewide ban.