As per the statement of the deceased's son Ashok, Dukalhin Bai's brother-in-law Nakul Patel suspected that she practised some witchcraft on a child in their family who had been suffering from an illness for a long time, Khare said. The victim was staying at her daughter's place in Jamul village for the past few months.
On Saturday, Nakul along with his two brothers went to Jamul and asked Dukalhin to come to Banjarpur to see Rupendra claiming his condition was deteriorating. When the woman reached her native place, Nakul and his relatives, including his wife and father, asked Dukalhin to treat the child while blaming her black magic practices for his bad health.
When she refused to treat the child, they started thrashing her with sticks, the SP said. Later, they dragged the woman out of the house and allegedly put chilly powder on her face and in her private parts, following which she died on the spot, he said. Soon after the incident, the victim's son rushed her to a local primary health centre where doctors declared her brought dead following which he lodged an FIR in this connection, he said.
"The body was sent for postmortem and the autopsy report would help in ascertaining the actual cause of her death," Khare said. Those arrested were identified as Nakul Patel, Tekaram, Nandkumar, Pradeep, Vikram, Gopal, and five women - Akalhinbai, Savanabai, Radha, Ahilya and Tejan. The identity of another male family member arrested was not yet known.
A case under section 302 (murder), other relevant sections of IPC and provisions of Chhattisgarh Witchcraft Atrocities (Prevention) Act, 2005 has been registered in this connection, he said, adding that further probe was on.