81-yr-old branded witch in Mandi village is widow of a war veteran
In a conversation with Hindustan Times, the victim Rajdei revealed that she is the wife of a war veteran who had fought the 1971 India-Pakistan war and was injured grievouslyUpdated: Nov 12, 2019 22:45 IST
The 81-year-old woman who was branded a witch and tortured by a mob at her house in Samalah village of Gahar gram panchayat in Mandi has spoken out for the first time since the alleged incident.
In a conversation with Hindustan Times, the victim Rajdei revealed that she is the wife of a war veteran. “My husband had fought the 1971 India-Pakistan war and injured grievously. However, he developed an illness and the army board retired him from services with all benefits.”
Stating that she was just 26 years old when her husband passed away, Rajdei says, “My daughters were very young when their father passed away. I brought up them up on my own and got them married.”
On Karva Chauth eve, an angry mob ransacked her house in Samalah village and burnt some clothes. Not wanting to disturb her daughters, who were busy preparing for the fast, Rajdei did not reveal the incident to anyone.
She says what hurt the most was that the mob burnt her late husband’s army uniform and medals. “My husband sacrificed his life for the country but his countrymen repaid his sacrifice with this insult. I bore the agony all alone that day and did not tell my daughters because they were observing Karva Chath fast.” she says.
It was a complaint about this incident, that the accused wanted her to take back. When she refused to budge, the accused branded her a witch, smeared black polish on her face and dragged her to a local deity’s chariot. In a video that is now being circulated on the social media, the youth can be seen pulling her around with her dupatta. Rajdei can also be heard asking for drinking water but the youth pay no heed to her and drag her around even more forcefully.
Tears rolling down her cheeks, Rajdei’s daugher Tripta says, “My mother hid the incident from us. She did not tell us about the October 17 incident. She even hid the November 6 incident when she was tortured and insulted by the mob. We came to know only when someone sent us the video of the incident.”
She added that she wants all those involved in the crime to be booked for attempt to murder and hanged to death. “My mother deserves justice,” she said while trying to fight back tears.
Meanwhile, a villager, on the condition of anonymity, disclosed that the police visited local deity ‘Mahunaag’ temple at Samalah village and spoke to people of the temple management. “The police had tea and snacks with the culprits and did nothing to bring justice to Rajdei. The police swung into action only after the video went viral on social media and Mandi superintendent of police (SP) Gurdev Chand Sharma took cognisance of the issue.”
ACCUSED DENIED BAIL, SENT TO JUDICIAL CUSTODY
The court on Tuesday denied bail to the 24 accused, including nine women, and sent them to 15-day judicial custody. The youngest accused is 18 years old.
Mandi superintendent of police (SP) Gurdev Chand Sharma along with police officials visited Rajdei’s daughter’s house and inspected the security arrangements. The 81-year-old’s medical examination was conducted at the civil hospital in Hamirpur.
SP Sharma said that proper security has been provided to the victim’s family. He said that more police force has been deployed in the area along with policemen in civvies to keep a check on any untoward incident.