NGO members protesting against the killing of women on suspicion of practising witchcraft in Ranchi.(HT File Photo/Representative image)
NGO members protesting against the killing of women on suspicion of practising witchcraft in Ranchi.(HT File Photo/Representative image)

Bihar villagers chop off 70-year-old tribal woman’s tongue for practising witchcraft

Tribals constitute only 1.1% of Rohtas district’ population and are deeply mired in superstitious practices. Hundreds of women have been killed in the past few years on suspicion of being witches in the state.
Hindustan Times, Sasaram | By Prasun K Mishra
UPDATED ON OCT 22, 2018 06:14 PM IST

A 70-year-old tribal woman is battling for life after her tongue was chopped off by villagers, who accused her of practising witchcraft, in Bihar’s Rohtas district, police said on Monday.

Police said Rajkalo Kunwar, a widow, was sleeping at her house with her grandchildren when three villagers barged into their house early on Sunday in Rediya village under Tilauthu police station area. The village is around 155km south west of state capital Patna.

They held the children at gunpoint and assaulted the woman before chopping off her tongue and fleeing. The victim suffered multiple injuries in the attack.

She was rushed by villagers alerted by the children’s cry for help to the primary health centre in Tilauthu, where doctors referred her to the Sadar Hospital in Sasaram.

Tilauthu Police have registered a case against Nanhak Rajwar, Uday Rajwar and Chatthu Rajwar of Bigaha Tola after her granddaughter lodged a complaint against them.

“We are carrying out raids to arrest the accused,” station house officer Pramod Kumar said.

The widow’s only son Krishna Rajwar is a hearing and speech impaired. He works as a daily wage labourer with his wife in a factory in Punjab’s Chandigarh. The couple had left their two daughters and a son with their grandmother at the village.

Police said the couple had taken leave to travel home three days ago and learnt about the incident as soon as they landed at the Sasaram railway station.

The accused, villagers said, blamed the old widow of practising witchcraft and causing ailments and other disturbances in their families.

“In the past too, they had abused and assaulted her with similar allegations and had threatened to teach her stern lessons,” the woman’s daughter-in-law Kamla said.

Tribals constitute only 1.1% of Rohtas’ population and are deeply mired in superstitious practices. Hundreds of women have been killed in the past few years on suspicion of being witches in the state.

“The Prevention of Witch Practices Act, 1999 is entering its 20th year of enactment, but the torture of women, especially from weaker sections in Bihar and Jharkhand, continues unabated due to lack of its knowledge among policemen,” anti-witchcraft crusader Premji said.

His organisation Free Legal Aid Committee (FLAC) had played an instrumental role in getting a law formulated to check witch-hunting.

“I sincerely hope that governments of Bihar and Jharkhand, where the practice of witch hunting is highest in the country, does something to check the heinous, inhuman practice,” he added.

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