A village quack was lynched in Simdega district after he was held responsible for spreading a disease that has killed eight people in the area over the past week, police said on Wednesday.
The state’s Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) has said the disease had been caused by consuming dead animal meat, adding that the eight victims had shown symptoms akin to those of anthrax.
The 54-year-old quack, Lawrence Burding, was treating some more villagers exhibiting the same symptoms. The lynching took place on Tuesday in Kuruchedega village in Bano block, around 100km south of Ranchi.
Police said Lawrence, who the locals believed could cure any malady with magic and forest herbs, was killed after he failed to heal the stricken villagers.
“In this case, the deceased failed to please the villagers and was killed,” said Simdega superintendent of police Rajeev Ranjan Singh.
“The incident is fallout of utter ignorance and superstition.”
Former Simdega legislator and ex-minister Niel Tirkey blamed the state health department for the lynching, saying that the villagers should have been made aware that the deaths were caused by the disease and was not a result of any witchery.
IDSP report showed that the health of the deceased deteriorated within 24 to 48 hours of consuming animal meat. The deaths were preceded by excretion of stool and with blood and acute stomach ache. The deceased had also eruptions, ulcers and bleb all over their body.
A special camp comprising medical officers, a pathologist and an epidemiologist has been setup in the area to report further cases, said a senior state health official.
“It (the deaths) has been brought to our notice and a task team has been formed to inform the people on the actual reason of death,” said ADN Prasad, the civil surgeon at Simdega.
“We suspect it to be anthrax.”