Two days after two people were killed by a mob in a Rohimapur, a remote village under the Dokmoka police station in the Karbi Anglong district of Assam after local residents suspected them of practicing witchcraft, until now 11 people have been arrested and a massive manhunt is underway to catch the rest, police sources said.
The incident happened on Wednesday evening but was first reported to police on Thursday morning. While nine villagers were arrested Thursday, two more were arrested Friday. The arrested villagers were brought before a court and were remanded in custody by the police on Friday.
According to police sources, in Rohimapur, a village girl after falling ill was taken to Guwahati for treatment. She later died. The daughter is a relative of the village chief of Rohimapur.
During a post-death ritual of a girl in the village on Wednesday, part of the villagers claimed that a 50-year-old widow, Ramawati Halua, and a 28-year-old, Bijoy Gaur, were practicing black magic and were responsible for the girl’s death.
The village is inhabited by people from the Adivasi community who are either day laborers or small farmers.
Soon a mob started beating her and attacked Bijoy and then Ramawati. They were beaten and lynched to death. Later, the bodies were dragged to a nearby hill, prayers were offered to a local deity and were cremated, police added.
It was under the same Dokmoka police station that in 2018, two young men were beaten to death by a mob after suspecting them of being child kidnappers.
As of 2018, the 2015 Assam Witch Hunt (Prohibition, Prevention and Protection) Act has been in effect. It was adopted by the Assembly of Assam in 2015 with provisions ranging from life imprisonment.
In 2019, the government of Assam informed the state legislature that in 18 years, as many as 161 people had been killed in the state in witch-hunts.
“The Assam witch hunt PPP law is there, but witch hunts are still going on. One of the main reasons is that the police do not always act according to this law, they can arrest immediately by under this law but that does not always happen, “said anti-witch. hunting activist Dibyajyoti Saikia.
Several cases of hunting have been reported in other areas of the northeast in the past. In Meghalaya and Tripura, cases of witch hunts have occurred in some areas.