18 arrested in Assam after brutal witchcraft killing

kali Assam witchcraft.jpg

Silchar/Guwahati: At least 18 tribal villagers in Assam's Cachar district were arrested for hacking to death a man they suspected of practising witchcraft, police said Saturday. They claimed they were told to kill the victim by a goddess who appeared in their dreams.
Three women were also among arrested, a PTI report said.
The killing took place on Thursday night at a tea estate village in Assam's Cachar district, 300 kilometres (180 miles) south of the impoverished state's main city of Guwahati.
The man, who was blamed for the various illnesses being suffered by the people of the area, was buried at Kalabil near the tea garden after some rituals to appease the gods. When police reached the spot along with a magistrate on Thursday night the labourers prevented them from taking away the body.
The body was, however, exhumed and seized on Friday by a big contingent of police and CRPF personal amidst resistance and attack by an irate mob of locals. The police had to fire in the air to control the situation before they could take away the body.
Blaming Mora of practicing witchcraft, arrested woman Rita Mora has alleged that Mora with his 'evil power' had paralyzed her husband, while another woman Radhamoni has claimed black magic by him had made her relative ill. The third arrested woman Kunjabati was also convinced that Mora was the reason for her son's illness.
Cachar district police chief Diganta Bora told AFP by telephone that the attack was "barbaric with a group of hysterical villagers sacrificing the man by piercing his neck with sharp weapons and chanting religious hymns".
The villagers who took part in the killing of the 53-year-old Jawaharlal Mora believed the victim was practising witchcraft and were seeking to 'appease the goddess Kali', the deity of destruction, Bora said. "Villagers said during police questioning the goddess told them in their dreams to kill this man to prevent disease and other ills from spreading into their village," Bora said.
Superstitious beliefs, black magic and demonology are integral to tribal customs in parts of Assam, Tripura and other northeastern states, authorities say. "Most of the people were drunk and dancing with the dead body in front of them and later they buried him a pit," the police official said, adding the investigation into the death was still under way.
"We will soon pick up some more people directly involved in this heinous crime that was inspired by superstitious beliefs," Bora said. Assam's police inspector general, Kula Saikia, called such killings 'a really big problem' for authorities.
Police in the state have set up a programme, called Project Prahari (Vigilance), that involves community policing and holding regular education campaigns among tribal chiefs and village elders.
"Simply enforcing the law and punishing the guilty are inadequate measures. There has to be an attitudinal change," Saikia said.
Mobs have killed at least 200 people over the past five years who they have accused of practising sorcery and witchcraft - mainly in tribal-dominated areas of western and northern Assam, police say.
Additional security forces were rushed to the area and senior police officials are camping there to keep a strict vigil on the situation and contain it, the police added.

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