A 37-year-old woman was forced to sit on animal faeces and consume urine, and brutally beaten by family members in Bartua village, 18 km from Ranchi.
Sumitra Devi, an anganwadi sevika, was rescued by police on Tuesday and admitted to Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS). She suffered injuries on her head and waist from the beating and stomach ailments from urine consumption.
“On Sunday a cow fell sick and in the evening my two brothersin law and their wives, locked me in a room,” Devi told HT on Wednesday
“They shouted muth pilao, daain bahar ayegi (make her drink urine, the witch will come out). I sat on faeces as they poured urine in my mouth,” added Devi, who remained locked till she was rescued on Tuesday.
Family members held Devi’s witchcraft responsible for the death of six buffaloes in 10 months, said Ormanjhi police. Devi’s husband, Dhaneshwar Ganju, said, “I was in Ranchi and returned late on Monday night. I confronted my brothers. On Tuesday morning an FIR was lodged and Devi was rescued.”
Dhaneshwar, a tiller, said that Devi would have been killed had he not reached on time. “I am the poorest among my siblings. They blame us for everything.”
“Devi’s brothers-in-law, Mahesh Ganju and Ganesh Ganju, have been arrested under the Prevention of Witch Practices Act and for assault,” said Ormanjhi station-in-charge Sanjay Kumar.
Jila Parsihad chairperson Sundari Tirkey said that Devi is lucky to have survived such an incident.
Last Saturday, a similar incident had created a stir when five women were accused of witchcraft and killed by the villagers in Jharkhand’s Mandar block.
Jharkhand’s social welfare department shows that at least 1,046 women have been accused of witchcraft and killed since 1995.
Despite numerous awareness programmes by the government, Jharkhand police records show a gradual increase in the number of such killings- 36 in 2012, 54 in 2013 and 56 in 2014.