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Witch hunting continues unabated in Asom

Written by: Staff

Guwahati, Mar 26: Incidents of witch hunting are on the rise in different parts of Asom, despite efforts by the state government and various NGOs to curb the practice.

According to official reports from across the state, as many as six people were killed for allegedly practising witchcraft. While eight persons were put under ''house arrest'', two others remained untraced during the last fortnight.

Maring Orang (60) of Daflagarh Tea Estate was beaten to death by the villagers for allegedly practising witchcraft.

In another incident, on March 17, eight persons of a family were put under ''house arrest'' on charges that the daughter of the family studied black magic.

The entire family of Saila Pator of Domola village, five km from Morigaon town, was put under ''house arrest'' after the villagers discovered that her 14-year-old daughter Maila studied books on black magic.

This decision was taken at the meeting in the village in the presence of village headman. Books on black magic reportedly recovered from Maila's possession were also burnt in the meeting.

This Tiwa tribe-dominated village has a tradition of alleged practice of black magic and other such arts.

In the another shocking incident, five members of a family were hacked to death on March 18 at Kachari Line, about three km from Biswanath Chariali in Sonitpur district on suspicion of being witches The whereabouts of two sons of the victim's family were yet not known.

In many villages of the state, particularly the tribal-dominated areas, a single family or persons are branded witches and held responsible for any sickness or calamity that befalls the area. Most often they are hacked to death or burnt alive.

The practice of witch hunting, rampant in western parts of the state, had led the state government to initiate a special awareness drive with the help of Assam Police. ''Project Prahari'' was launched in August 2001 following the killing of five villagers in March, 2000 in Thaigarguri village on suspicion of being witches.

The project was aimed at empowering the villagers towards economic growth besides creating awareness about the evils of witch hunting.

The success of the project led the government to extend it to 60 more villages of Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon and Chirang districts.

The Project was also mentioned in India's report in the United Nations on implementation of successful projects for women empowerment and social welfare. President A P J Abdul Kalam had also lauded state government in his letter in 2004.

Nodal Officer of project ''Kuladhar'' Saikia said various developmental activities such as building of schools and health clinics were undertaken in the villages which resulted in the great success of Project Prahari.

With fresh reports of witch hunting pouring in from across the state including northern tea tribes-dominated regions, the government might intensify implementation of Project ''Prahari'' to control the menance.


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