Five beheaded for witchcraft in Assam

Villagers publicly beheaded a family of five for allegedly causing the death of two tea garden workers by witchcraft.

india Updated: Mar 19, 2006 12:58 IST

Villagers using machetes publicly beheaded a family of five in India's northeast for allegedly causing the death of two tea garden workers by witchcraft, police said on Sunday.

The villagers ordered the beheadings on Saturday to appease the gods after a "trial" into the unexplained deaths of two plantation workers from a mysterious disease that also afflicted many others in the past two weeks, police said.

Those killed were 60-year-old Amir Munda and four of his children. Police said Munda and the villagers are tribals belonging to the Adivasi Santhal community, which believes in the powers of witchcraft, black magic and sorcery.

"A trial was held to prove if Munda and his family were involved in casting evil spells in the tea garden that led to a bout of epidemics in the area," police officer D Das said.

"They said the killings would appease the gods," Das said.

Police and witnesses said the gruesome incident took place at the Sadharu tea plantation in Assam's northern Sonitpur district, about 240 kilometers (149 miles) from the capital city of Guwahati.

"Mundas pregnant wife and her three young children managed to escape before the mob killed the other members of the family," A Hazarika, a police official in the area, said.

"A group of about 200 tea garden workers were present when the five people were beheaded one by one in full public view and their decapitated bodies carried in a procession to the police station," Hazarika said.

Six people were arrested for the killings, he said.

Police records show some 200 people were killed in the past five years for allegedly practicing witchcraft in Assam.

First Published: Mar 19, 2006 12:58 IST