Assam witch-hunt case: Two women pushed into well, buried alive

Updated on Nov 01, 2016 06:34 PM IST

Two women were allegedly pushed into a well by three brothers and buried alive by covering it with mud and earth in Assam.

Assam’s legislative assembly passed a bill to prohibit witch hunting in August last year. Representative picture(HT File Photo)
Assam’s legislative assembly passed a bill to prohibit witch hunting in August last year. Representative picture(HT File Photo)
Hindustan Times | By, Guwahati

Two women were buried alive in Assam on Monday night after they were branded as witches over presence of insects in a village well.

The victims Sagu Gaur, 60, and Salmi Gaur, 48, were pushed into the well by three brothers- Basu Gaur, Sanu Gaur and Kumar Sanu Gaur and buried alive by dumping mud and earth over them.

The incident took place at Naharbari in Nagaon district, 140 km north-east from Guwahati. Accused Basu and Sanu have been arrested and search is on to nab Kumar Sanu.

“Sagu and Salmi used black magic to infest the well with insects from which we drink water. Last night we caught them and buried them alive,” an unrepentant Basu told local television channels.

Police said both accused have confessed to their involvement in the crime and efforts are underway to recover the bodies from the nearly 10-feet deep well.

“The accused and victims are relatives. Salmi happens to be a cousin sister of the three brothers while Sagu was their maternal aunt,” local police officer Someshwar Kunwor told HT.

Belief in occult for anything from failed crops, disease or death leads many in Assam’s backward areas to blame the events on someone.

Birubala Rabha (on the right, in white dress) has been crusading against witch-hunting after a village quack almost killed her son in 1996. (Subhamoy Bhattacharjee/HT File Photo)
Birubala Rabha (on the right, in white dress) has been crusading against witch-hunting after a village quack almost killed her son in 1996. (Subhamoy Bhattacharjee/HT File Photo)

Read | A witch-hunting survivor crusades to save Assamese women

Usually an ‘oja’ or ‘bej’ (local priest/witch doctor) lays the blame on a villager who is then branded a witch and excommunicated, thrown out from their homes, beaten and even killed in some extreme cases.

The malaise claimed 116 lives (more than half of them women) between 2006 and 2015 and injured hundreds across the state.

Assam’s legislative assembly passed a bill to prohibit witch hunting in August last year. The bill made the offence non-bailable with provisions for arrests without court warrant and trails in fast-track courts.

It also stipulates up to seven years of imprisonment for anyone branding someone a witch, fines ranging from Rs 50,000 to Rs 5 lakhs and life imprisonment if the person branded a witch commits suicide.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Utpal is a Senior Assistant Editor based in Guwahati. He covers seven states of North-East India and heads the editorial team for the region. He was previously based in Kathmandu, Dehradun and Delhi with Hindustan Times.

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