Mother and daughter hacked to death over allegations witchcraft
PATNA: An Indian mother and her daughter had their heads shaved and were paraded through their village after resisting an attempted rape by men including a local official, police said Friday. The world’s largest democracy has an abysmal record on sexual crime against women, particularly in rural areas where the majority of the 1.3-billion population lives. Ward councillor Mohommad Khurshid forcibly entered the women’s home in the eastern state of Bihar on Wednesday with other men and allegedly attempted to rape the newly married 19-year-old daughter, police told AFP.
When she and her mother – whose husband tries to make ends meet by begging – resisted, they were both physically assaulted and Khurshid brought in the local barber to shave their heads, the elder woman told police. “Until now only six accused in the case have been arrested. Police have been conducting raids to arrest others as they are absconding after the incident,” local policeman Sanjay Kumar said. The councillor and the barber were among those being held, with the case attracting national media coverage and opposition lawmakers hitting out at the state government.
In another development, an Indian mother and daughter were hacked to death by three men over allegations of witchcraft in the country’s remote tribal-dominated east, police said yesterday. The 50-year-old woman and her young daughter were beaten by their neighbours before being attacked with knives on Wednesday night in West Singhbhum district in Jharkhand state. Police said the victims’ family was embroiled in a land dispute with one of the accused, who used black magic allegations as a cover-up to commit the crime.
“One of the accused told the villagers that the women were witches and responsible for deaths and diseases in the village. They attacked the women in the night and killed them brutally,” district police chief Indrajit Mahatha said. The woman’s husband filed a complaint against the accused who are on the run, he said. More than 2,000 people-many of them women-were killed in India on suspicion of witchcraft between 2000 and 2012, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.
Some states, including Jharkhand, have introduced special laws to try to curb crimes against people accused of witchcraft and superstition. Experts say belief in witchcraft and the occult remains widespread in impoverished rural communities across India. There are also occasional reports of human sacrifices. Earlier this month police in northeastern Assam state said they suspected a case of human sacrifice after finding the headless body of a woman near a Hindu temple.- Agencies